Sexual abuse allegations rock western Ky. high school


PADUCAH, Ky. (KT) - Authorities in McCracken County have charged four in connection with allegations of sexual abuse involving McCracken County High School students, multiple media outlets are reporting.

Three employees at the school were charged along with a student, McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter said Wednesday at a press conference.

-Principal Michael Ceglinski is charged with one count of second-degree official misconduct and one count of failure to report abuse

-Director of Pupil Personnel Brian Bowland has also been charged with one count of second-degree official misconduct.

-Former bass fishing coach John Parks was charged Feb. 14 with first-degree sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

-A student at the school, 18-year-old Princekumar Joshi, has also been charged with using a electronic device to record or possess illegal sexual images of a minor.

The charges against Ceglinski and Bowland stem from accusations the two were aware of potential abuse but did not notify law enforcement. Det. Ryan Norman said detectives interviewed several faculty members and found school personnel knew about the alleged abuse for several weeks and took little to no action.

Jeremy Smith, Ceglinski's lawyer, told WKMS radio the charges are "illogical."

"Principal Ceglinski cooperated with the investigation and looks forward to trial where rumor and innuendo are not evidence," Smith said in a statement.

Ceglinski has been suspended with pay from his position that he has held since the school opened in 2013 when it formed with the consolidations of Reidland, Heath and Lone Oak high schools. His next court date is set for March 7. No court date has been set for Bowland.

The charges against Parks were brought after parents of a student contacted deputies about alleged abuse a full three weeks after originally reporting it to school officials. Detectives said in that case the school also did not make any effort to notify law enforcement. Parks is set to be arraigned Thursday.

Joshi was charged after deputies say he recorded illegal videos of an underage student. In that case detectives said school officials were also made aware of the accusations, but again chose not to report them to authorities. His arraignment has been scheduled for March 5.

Carter said the law requires everyone, not just those in positions of authority, to report child abuse. He said those who do not are violating the law and may be charged with a crime.

"We have a duty to protect all citizens, and children can be the most vulnerable citizens," Carter said. "I believe it is imperative that we always ensure they remain safe and hold those that do harm accountable, most especially those who are placed in positions of authority and are expected to be doing the right thing. Not only is the law clear in these types of incidents, but we should also all strive to follow a clear ethical and moral compass for the betterment of our community and our schools."

McCracken County Schools Superintendent Brian Harper said there are plans to conduct training sessions to educate faculty members on the legal reporting requirements when abuse is suspected.



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