Matewan Middle School teacher arrested on abuse charges

Debbie Rolen drolen@civitasmedia.com

December 13, 2013

Pursuant to a complaint filed Dec. 6 by Matewan K-8 principal Theresa Hanshaw, teacher Jennifer Parsons, 32, of Matewan, turned herself in to West Virginia State Police and was arraigned before Mingo County Magistrate Dee Sidebottom.

Sidebottom read the charges to Parsons, which were outlined in the criminal complaint. The complaint is public information and is not an indication of guilt. Parsons is innocent until proven guilty.

According to the complaint, Parsons was having an inappropriate relationshp with one of her 13-year-old female students. Hanshaw reported that a previous investigation had taken place due to prior complaints of an inappropriate relationship between Parsons and the victim. The previous investigation was conducted by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, with initial complaints alleging that Parsons and the victim were participating in such activities as writing love notes to each other while in class, calling each other “babe,” and that both Parsons and the victim had been observed touching one another with their hands on various body parts. The trooper also noted Parsons was the victim’s soccer coach.

The complaint says that further discussion with the trooper revealed Parson was cleared after the prior investigation, but in time further complaints were made, leading to Parsons being suspended and the West Virginia State Police being contacted.

After the complaint was filed, troopers interviewed multiple students who stated they had seen Parsons and the victim pass notes in class. One student told a trooper he had seen Parsons and the victim kissing inside Parsons’ classroom and a soccer teammate of the victim said Parson and the victim had sat in the back of the bus during rides to away soccer games. That student said while Parsons and the victim were seated together, they had their hands on one another’s thighs.

The alleged victim was interviewed by the trooper and admitted to being involved in an inappropriate relationship with Parsons, telling the trooper she began writing love notes to Parsons during the early part of the 2013 school year and that Parsons had responded and said things like she was beautiful and she loved her. The victim also gave the trooper information that verified what he had been told by the students interviewed at the school. She admitted to kissing Parsons during times Parsons provided her with transport in her personal vehicle and said the first time she kissed Parsons was in school during Parsons’ planning period. In addition, she told of spending multiple nights at Parsons’ residence, the first of which including intimate details of a night spent at a Blackberry City residence near the end of the initial investigation. The victim also said she and Parsons would burn the notes they had written to each other.

If Parsons is convicted, she could face between 10 and 20 years in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines.

Her bond was set at $150,000 cash.