The State Line Is Apparently a Bad Guy’s Best Friend


I guess it is easier, and certainly more fun, for high-ranking law enforcement types to bitch about the media instead of going after bureaucratic BS that puts innocent kids in harm’s way.
At least that is how it seems to me.
Last week’s bizarre revelation that a Richmond County school custodian came under heavy scrutiny over allegations of improperly touching a female student, only after it was discovered that a similar allegation had been made by another student at another Richmond County school last year, was bad enough.
As if the Devil himself was playing a game of “Can You Top This,” we discovered that the custodian in question, Reginald Price, was charged in Aiken County for reportedly touching yet another female student not quite two years ago.
When I broke this story Monday on the radio, I was told by a high-ranking Richmond County school official that they were convinced someone within their in-house Public Safety Department dropped the ball while vetting Price through a routine criminal background check for his first system position at Murphey Middle School in January of 2012. (According to my sources, Price was moved to another system school this year for reasons that had nothing to do these accusations of misconduct.)
What particularly concerned them was that Price was accused by student No. 2 about a month after the Aiken Middle School girl we now can call student No. 1 made similar complaints about him (December of 2011).
The complaint of student No. 3, a C.T. Walker Magnet School girl, was apparently the key to unlocking the whole, sordid mess. Give credit to the more aggressive investigative techniques of new Chief Alfonzo Williams. The Murphey case was investigated under former Public Safety Chief, and current Richmond County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Pat Clayton, and was not given much credence. Williams has theorized that an inexperienced officer handled that matter, and that it was never prosecuted.
For reasons that have yet to be publicly explained, the Aiken Middle case was never prosecuted either, as the Augusta Chronicle’s Travis Highfield reported Tuesday night:
“Sgt. Jake Mahoney, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday that records show Reginald L. Price, 44, was arrested Dec. 9, 2011, by public safety officers on a charge of assault and battery in the third degree.
“Mahoney said a female student at Aiken Middle School, whose age has not been made public, alleged that Price touched her on her buttocks. The case, however, was never prosecuted.
“‘It could’ve been a lack if evidence,’ Mahoney said. ‘It could’ve been that the witnesses weren’t cooperating. It’s just hard to tell why (the case was dropped).’”
Williams did not know about the Aiken Middle charge until he reopened the Murphey case. Apparently, no one at the RCBOE had a clue Price had been arrested and charged until this week.
How did this happen? RC Chief Deputy Clayton posted this on The Austin Rhodes Show Facebook page:
“The only queries that we are allowed by law to conduct on the Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC) for employment are in-state queries. That means that we do not receive a South Carolina arrest as in this case.
“Secondly, Austin talks about ‘jail diversion.’ I believe that he meant pre-trial diversion which is not a conviction. (NOTE: Price was in fact arrested and charged, and that should show up in a criminal background check.)
“Thirdly, I believe that if he checks with the BOE, he will find that this person was fingerprinted which would have disclosed this arrest, but again this is a HR determination. Again, this is not a conviction and I believe that most attorney’s would advise employment can not be denied solely on this basis. If fingerprints were done as I suspect, there would be a clear paper trail. Austin could certainly ask if fingerprints were submitted when he was hired permanently. Either way, I stand by my fellow employee who I believed followed Board established protocol.”
The lady who conducted the criminal background check must be a favorite; she left the BOE to go work with Clayton and Roundtree at the Sheriff’s Department.
Clayton’s legal opinions aside (you most certainly can keep a suspected child molester away from a job in the midst of public school students!), I was astonished to see that Georgia’s super criminal history database apparently stops at the state line. What moron thought up this rule, and why don’t white-collar cops like Clayton stand on top of police cars screaming for such silly rules to be fixed?
Ironically, according to one of our local judges familiar with the system, if you are hiring a police officer, you are able to search worldwide for arrest and conviction information without boundaries, but, if you are just hiring a simple school employee, your quest for truth and security ends at the Savannah River.
What hideous and indefensible garbage! Hideous and indefensible garbage, I might add, that will stay in place as long as people who know about the problem (like Clayton) stay quiet about it.
Of course any marginally bright desk jockey (you know, like me) might have figured out ways around the idiocy of the “state line limit” and used a super cool and modern investigation tool to vet applicants, up until most recently, only thought to exist in James Bond movies or aboard the Starship Enterprise.
I Googled him.
Look at that, there it is. Aiken County case I-093749. Reginald Lavern Price, assault and battery in the third degree, December 6, 2011. Just damn.
With those few keystrokes came enough information to ask enough questions that would have likely kept Price out of the Richmond County school system, and at least two young girls out of harm’s way.
Thank you God for Google, my MacBook Air and a tiny little thing called intellectual curiosity.

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