PERRY, Okla. – A former principal of a northern Oklahoma elementary school has been sentenced to five years' probation for not reporting child abuse by a teacher's aide.
Kenda Miller, 51, was sentenced Thursday after reaching a plea deal for misdemeanor charges of failure to promptly report child abuse or neglect, the Oklahoman reported . Miller resigned in June from Upper Elementary School in Perry, where Arnold Cowen molested girls while working as an aide.
Cowen, 86, is serving 10 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to molesting 10 girls.
Noble County District Attorney Brian Hermanson said Miller chose not to contact the Department of Human Services when "numerous girls told her they were being touched by Mr. Cowen."
"The fact that she chose not to call the Hotline and instead send the children back into the classroom with Mr. Cowen is unimaginable," Hermanson said.
Miller acknowledged at the sentencing that she didn't immediately report the abuse.
Several parents read statements on behalf of their children.
One parent said that Miller "took the side of a child molester and someone who had pictures and videos of children being forced to do bad things."
Parents of 16 girls also filed a federal lawsuit in December against Perry Public Schools and the Board of Education alleging school officials showed "deliberate indifference" by failing to remove or report Cowen after he was accused of sexual misconduct.
The lawsuit alleges that Miller instructed girls not to report Cowen's misconduct because "it could get people in trouble." The lawsuit also said that the principal told girls to "fist bump" Cowen instead of hug him.
Attorney Cameron Spradling, who represents the victims, said Thursday, "It's a disgrace that a woman in power did not protect these little girls."
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com