I-Team: Records of teacher accused of child abuse sealed

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A teacher is no longer an employee for the Clark County School District after police said she abused a student. But could she end up in a classroom again?

The I-Team learned her criminal record was sealed and investigated how this happened.

Melody Carter was arrested for felony child abuse in June 2018. According to police, she struck a 5-year-old boy with special needs with a stick while she was a teacher at Harmon Elementary School.

The victim is JJ Wahrer, who is autistic and nonverbal. His parents learned about what happened to him from an arrest report.

“We found out that the abuse wasn’t just one time. It had been going on for a while,” said Joshua Wahrer, JJ’s father.

But now, the arrest will be kept a secret.

According to an official document, while Carter was out on bond, she was prohibited from teaching. One month later, she agreed to a plea deal on the terms that if she stayed out of trouble and went to anger management counseling, the felony child abuse charge would be dropped to a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.

Court documents revealed her record was sealed less than a year later. In the eyes of the law, it’s like JJ’s abuse never happened.

Attorney Gregg Hubley represents JJ and his parents.

“My clients would have loved to have a voice in that process. Because frankly, what’s happened is insulting to them,” stated Hubley.

They’ve filed a civil lawsuit against Carter and CCSD for failing to protect JJ. Hubley said now, they refuse to provide information.

“Now, she put up this barrier to us, and the district has, as well, telling us, ‘no, you can’t have these documents, they were sealed’,” said Hubley.

According to a court document, Pro Tem Judge Holly Stoberski signed off on it, along with the Clark County District Attorney.

“I have no idea why the district attorney would have agreed,” Hubley said.

The Nevada state law for the sealing of court records is aimed at getting those convicted of crimes back in the job force. An employer may be less likely to hire someone with a criminal record.

The I-Team tracked down the statute, which reads in part, “a person may not petition the court to seal records related to the conviction of a crime against a child.”

Ultimately, Carter’s conviction was for disorderly conduct. She was originally charged with felony child abuse.

The I-Team also learned Carter still has a teaching license in Nevada.

We reached out to the Department of Education to find out how. A spokeswoman confirmed the department is aware of Carter’s arrest, and there were no regulations in place that would require action against a license in that situation.

Hubley is continuing the fight in court, “We’re not going away. We’re not going to give up.”

We contacted Carter through her attorney, who replied, “no comment.”

While she may be moving on, Hubley said JJ still suffers the consequences of her actions.

“The damaging impact of that is difficult to quantify, but they’ve seen it manifested in his behavior, and that’s what this is about,” stated Hubley. “This is what we’re doing here. We’re trying to get justice for JJ.”

He said money awarded in a lawsuit would go toward making sure JJ gets an education he deserves.

We reached out to the Justice Court and the District Attorney’s office, and neither was willing to comment.

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