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Three Caldwell ISD Employees Indicted For Failure To Report Child Abuse

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CALDWELL, Texas *10 P.M. Update*

A grand jury indicted three Caldwell ISD employees for failing to report an essay about abuse, written by a high school student.

This is in relation to a standoff in Caldwell last year in which that student was sexually assaulted and her grandmother murdered.

The victim in this case was abused by a man who is serving a life sentence for murder and sexual assault.

The grand jury found enough evidence to move forward with pursuing misdemeanor charges.

The Caldwell High School Principal, an assistant principal and a middle school counselor are all on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.

Caldwell Middle School Counselor Bliss Bednar, High School Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and High School Principal Bradley Vestal have been indicted for not reporting that a student had written an essay about being abused.

It's the same victim who was sexually assaulted before a standoff in June of last year.

"She had been assaulted in the house and she finally escaped to notify an officer," said Senior Corporal Jimmy Morgan, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, during a June 29, 2012 interview.

The 15-year-old girl was attacked by 51-year-old Eddie Lee.

In April he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting her and also murdering her grandmother, Jean Slovacek, who was his girlfriend.

"It's pretty disturbing. You don't want to think that something like that would happen or occur," said Captain Charles Darling of the Caldwell Police Department, during a July 2, 2012 interview.

Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Janet Cummings declined an interview request but said in a statement:

"Caldwell ISD Superintendent and the CISD Board of Trustees want to assure our educational community that all appropriate action will be taken to continue to earn the trust of our parents and community," said Cummings.

The indictment says the educators failed to come forward with the essay on October 6, 2011.

That's more than eight months before the standoff and murder.

The Burleson County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney, County Attorney and school officials weren't available for an interview Friday afternoon.

It's unclear what was said in that English paper essay at this time.

The Caldwell Independent School District added in its statement that they are working with the District Attorney's office on this case.

Bliss Bednar and Vance Skidmore have been arrested and released from the Burleson County Jail.

*Previous Story*

A grand jury indicted three Caldwell ISD employees for failing to report an essay about abuse, written by a high school student.

It's connected to a standoff in Caldwell last year in which that student was sexually assaulted and her grandmother murdered.

A Burleson County Grand Jury believes there is sufficient evidence for the misdemeanor case to move forward.

This student was abused by a man who is now spending life in prison.

All three educators have been placed on administrative leave after investigators say they failed to report abuse to proper agencies.

Caldwell Middle School Counselor Bliss Bednar, High School Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and High School Principal Bradley Vestal have been indicted for failing to report the abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.

Bednar and Skidmore have been arrested and released from the Burleson County Jail.

According to the indictment the student had written an essay in English Class detailing she had been abused or neglected.

This is the same student who was victimized by sex offender Eddie Lee, who caused a standoff with police in Caldwell in June 2012.

Lee was sentenced to life in prison in April for shooting and killing his girlfriend Jean Slovacek in her Caldwell home, and also plead guilty to sexually assaulting Slovacek's 15-year-old granddaughter.

That granddaughter is listed as the victim in this indictment.

Caldwell ISD Superintendent Janet Cummings declined an interview request but said in a statement:

"The District has placed the employees on administrative leave at this time... The serious nature of the allegations must thoroughly be investigated and the educators given an opportunity to defend their actions," said Cummings.

The Burleson County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney, County Attorney and school officials were not available for an interview Friday afternoon.

News 3 will stay on this story and we'll bring you more as we learn it.

Statement from Caldwell ISD Superintendent Dr. Janet Cummings

Caldwell ISD has been informed that three employees have been issued an indictment by the Burleson County Grand Jury for the offense of failure to report child abuse. The District has placed the employees on administrative leave at this time. The District has cooperated fully with the District Attorney’s office and will take appropriate employment actions. The serious nature of the allegations must thoroughly be investigated and the educators given an opportunity to defend their actions. Caldwell ISD Superintendent and the CISD Board of Trustees want to assure our educational community that all appropriate action will be taken to continue to earn the trust of our parents and community. Due to the serious nature of these developments, the District will not be making further comments at this time.


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