POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — A Mason County educator hopes to be back in the principal’s office after his acquittal Tuesday on felony child abuse charges.
Mason County Circuit Judge David Nibert found Cameron Moffett not guilty during the bench trial in Point Pleasant. The judge handed down his decision right after the prosecution presented its case.
“The judge concluded the state did not meet their burden for a criminal prosecution at the conclusion of the state’s case,” defense attorney Jim Lees, who did not have to put on his case, told MetroNews. “That’s what I’ve been saying on behalf of my client for over a year.”
It was March 2012 when Moffett, then principal at Point Pleasant Intermediate School, came on a field trip-bound school bus because of a problem with student Zach Plants. Moffett ended up forcibly removing the 11-year-old Plants from the bus. The incident was caught on the bus video. Moffett was later charged with felony child abuse.
Lees said the prosecution couldn’t prove Moffett had any criminal intent because there was none.
“Testimony came out in the trial that this kid disobeyed at least five directives from adults to move his seat on the bus.”
Lees said Moffett knew the history of the student’s previous behavioral problems when he got on the bus.
There were teachers, the Mason County school superintendent and others at Tuesday’s trial in support of Moffett. Lees said he should have never been charged. He said almost as bad was the delay of getting the case prosecuted. Moffett wasn’t indicted until earlier this year.
“Cameron Moffett is a good principal and he was unable to be a principal for an entire school year because he just sat there,” Lees said.
Moffett remained employed as maintenance director for the Mason County school system. Lees said Tuesday Moffett wants to return to his job as principal.
“Obviously his hope is that he will be reinstated to some school as school principal, that’s what he is,” Lees said. “I don’t think he wants to continue his career as maintenance director.”
The Plants family has a civil lawsuit pending against Moffett and the Mason County Board of Education.