Charges against three Caldwell educators accused of failing to report abuse of a student were dropped Monday by a special prosecutor appointed to the case.
In August, Caldwell Middle School counselor Bliss Bednar, Caldwell High School vice principal Vance Skidmore and Caldwell High School principal Bradley Vestal were indicted by a Burleson County grand jury for the misdemeanor based on their lack of reporting a 15-year-old girl's essay that alluded to a teenager being sexually molested.
The indictments came after the girl's grandmother, 51-year-old Jean Slovacek, was shot and killed by Edward Lee Clinton in June 2012. Lee, who was Slovacek's boyfriend, has since been convicted of murder and sexually assaulting the student who wrote the essay. He is serving a life sentence.
All three of the school employees were placed on, and remain on, paid administrative leave for now.
Craig Greening, a Bryan-based lawyer who represented Skidmore, said that, after the essay was turned in as a class assignment, the girl was asked about the essay and she claimed to have made it all up.
"There was no indication otherwise that she had been abused and her guardian indicated they hadn't seen anything inside the home," he said.
On Friday, attorneys for the three educators traveled to Fort Worth to meet with the teenage girl and take her deposition. However, Greening said, she never showed up.
On Monday, Forest Sanderson, the prosecutor on the case, dismissed the charges against the teachers "in the interest of justice," Greening said.
Greening said that, since his client's arrest, Skidmore and his family have moved to Crockett. The former Caldwell vice principal is hoping to start working in the Crockett school district.
"Obviously, this has taken a serious emotional toll on [Skidmore], who had never been arrested before," Greening said. "He was willing and ready to fight these charges because he believed he was innocent."
Rob Neal, a local attorney who represented Bednar, said his client wants to return to Caldwell schools, but is waiting for a civil suit filed against her and the other two educators to be disposed of.
"I think the classrooms in Caldwell really miss her," he said. "Both her and her husband have been overwhelmed by the amount of support they've received from people all over the Caldwell community."
Vestal's Austin-based lawyer, Gerry Morris, could not be reached Monday evening.
School employees who believe a student may have been abused physically or sexually are required by law to file a report with law enforcement or the Department of Family and Protective Services. Failure to do so is a Class A misdemeanor.
Attempts to reach Caldwell schools Superintendent Janet Cummings were unsuccessful.