GPD: Atkinson Elementary principal made inconsistent statements regarding alleged child cruelty incident

STAFF REPORTS :::

Officials say inconsistent statements made by Atkinson Elementary School Principal Aveory Allen, interviews conducted by investigators of the Griffin Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division and other evidence led to Allen and Coach Derek Wilder each being charged with one felony count of cruelty to children and a misdemeanor count of battery.
According to Lt. Mike Richardson, the GPD was on April 1 notified by the Department of Family and Children Services and officials of the Griffin-Spalding County School System’s Human Resources Department of an incident that allegedly occurred at Atkinson Elementary on March 26.
“According to school officials, parents of two children reported that the school Principal Mr. Aveory Allen and a teacher, Coach Derek Wilder, allegedly used excessive physical force with two students during an after school detention incident. The case was assigned to the Juvenile Investigations Division of the Police Department, which began an extensive investigation into the allegations,” Richardson reported. “Over the course of the next several weeks, with cooperation from the school system, lead investigator Sergeant Karen Yancy conducted several forensic interviews with multiple student witnesses and the alleged victims. Additionally, there were several other interviews conducted with parents, school staff and other witnesses. During the investigation, it was determined that there were discrepancies in statements made by Mr. Allen to parents, school officials and the police department. Based on those inconsistencies, including one by Mr. Allen that the two juvenile victims were fighting at the time of the incident that were not true, the evidence and testimony of all those interviewed, it was determined that the physical contact made by the principal and teacher exceeded what would normally be used during a disciplinary action and constituted a battery defined by Georgia annotated code.”
After the investigation was completed, the Spalding County District Attorney’s Office was consulted and the decision was made to charge Allen and Wilder with second degree cruelty to children and battery.
“On Monday, April 27, 2015, the warrants were signed and the attorney representing Mr. Allen and Mr. Wilder was notified, at which time arrangements were made for them to turn themselves in to the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office early this (Tuesday) morning. Both Mr. Avery and Mr. Wilder have complied,” Richardson reported. “The Griffin Police Department would like to state that we are very familiar with the good character and reputation of both of the men involved in this incident. In as much as it is an unfortunate event for all parties involved, we make our decisions based on the facts and evidence.”
Further information regarding actions taken by the school system should be addressed to GSCSS Executive Director of Communications Judy Parker at 678-603-7716.

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