Grand Jury Indicts Former Milton Teacher on Abuse Charges

Police became involved in the child abuse case that started as a DFACS and personnel matter at Hopewell Middle School, shifted to a civil suit that revealed more alleged victims.

A Fulton County Grand Jury has returned an eleven count indictment against a former special needs teacher for allegedly abusing children in her care. 34-year-old Melanie Pickens is charged with Cruelty to Children and False Imprisonment in connection with the physical abuse of five Hopewell Middle School students. 

Pickens faces a total of 11 counts on charges of cruelty to children and false imprisonment in connection with the physical abuse of five Hopewell Middle School students, the District Attorney's Office said today, Dec. 12.

The alleged abuse occurred between 2004-2007 at the Fulton County middle school in Alpharetta, a release from the DA's office said. According to the investigation, the victims, who were all non-verbal, were either pushed, shoved into lockers and/or left in isolation for hours on end.

The alleged abuse of one student was discovered in 2007 by school officials and then reported to the Department of Family and Children Services. The case was initially handled as a human resource matter in the Fulton County Schools System centered around the abuse of that child.  A civil suit involving that victim ensued years later and led to the discovery of four other potential victims. The case was eventually brought to the attention of law enforcement and a criminal investigation was launched.

The case was forwarded to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in May 2012.  Pickens resigned her position in 2007.

The case was being presented to the Fulton County Grand Jury by the DA’s Public Integrity Unit. Should the Grand Jurors return an indictment against Pickens, the case will be assigned to a Fulton County Superior Court Judge and scheduled for trial.

Indictments only contain charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the burden of the DA's office to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Nancy Steen December 13, 2012 at 07:23 AM
How about other school officials including principal, police chief, superintendents and Fulton County School board members? For years they knew this and they did not do anything. This is serious! There is a cover up here. See a reminder on this issue and a part from the same link copied below: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/story/15286066/exclusive-parents-say-fulton-covered-up-student-abuse "Fulton County School Board President Linda Schultz testified she did not know more than one student was abused by a special education teacher, because she didn't read the investigative report. Schultz testified that she did not know other children were abused, until she saw news coverage about it in 2011. Williams' attorney, Chris Vance, said the school system should have notified police of the abuse. However, district officials did not notify police until 2009 when it forwarded information to its own police department. Fulton County school police captain Felipe Usury testified Tuesday he was instructed by his superior to close the case without forwarding the information to the district attorney's office to determine if laws were broken. Educators testified Monday about student abuse they allegedly witnessed at the hands of Pickens. Several former and current employees of the Fulton County School System told similar stories of abuse and neglect including hitting, kicking and shoving special needs students." The same police got promotion from Fulton County Schools. Outraging!


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