KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A former teacher’s aide accused of not reporting the abuse of special needs children was found not guilty on all charges by a Kanawha County jury Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023.
The judge declared Lori Gibson free to go, and her bond was returned.
Gibson was charged in connection to the abuse of children in the classroom of Nancy Boggs, a former teacher now in prison for physically hurting children. Gibson says she did what was required of her as a teacher’s aide, but prosecutors say she did not do what was required of her.
Her defense attorney declined to do an interview after the verdict, but said it’s about the kids and they’re happy with the final decision. Meanwhile, Craig and Beth Bowden, a victim’s parents, said they don’t believe justice was served; however, the end of the trial provided closure to their family.
The Bowden family has spent the last two years, ever since the abuse was brought to light, advocating for better protection for the most vulnerable in the classroom including cameras in classrooms, audio recording devices in bathrooms and implementing harsher penalties for child abuse in schools.
“Even though the verdict was not guilty I’m walking out with pride because I think we made a difference getting the conversation started,” Beth Bowden said. “I think that one of the things we can all take from this is to do better for our most vulnerable children, all children, but especially those with disabilities.”
The jury was selected Monday, July 31, and opening statements began Tuesday, Aug. 1. The jury reached their verdict this afternoon Wednesday, Aug. 2.
Gibson pleaded not guilty to the charge of failure to report in September 2022.
On July 26, Gibson and another former teacher’s aide involved in the case, Lisa Perdue, appeared in court before Kanawha County Judge Maryclaire Akers. At that hearing, Akers accepted the pretrial diversion agreement for the Lisa Perdue, meaning her records will be clean once she meets certain conditions set by the court. She must cooperate with testimonies in the investigation and cannot work with children under the age of 14 for one year.
The charges stem from crimes committed by special needs teacher Nancy Boggs, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for abusing children in her classroom. In late May of 2022, Boggs pleaded guilty to 10 counts of battery. These charges include Boggs hitting a student with a cabinet door, pulling a student by the hair, slapping a student on the face, slapping a student on the shoulder, driving a student’s head into a desk and jerking a chair out from under a student.
Prosecutors claim Gibson and Perdue personally witnessed the abuse and did not report it as required under the law.
Kanawha County Schools fired both Gibson and Perdue, according to a spokesperson for the district.