A former principal convicted of failing to report a rape that happened at his school was cleared of any wrongdoing Wednesday.
From conviction, to vindication, former Muncie Central High School Principal Chris Smith’s sentence has been overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
“Very pleased, very pleased,” said Chris Smith’s attorney, Scott Shockley. “We feel like it was a very detailed, thorough opinion and a very fair result.”
Smith took major heat in 2010, after a 16-year-old girl was raped inside a bathroom at the school. Smith was charged with failure to immediately report child abuse or neglect. He allegedly waited 4.5 hours to call police. Shockley said too much of the blame was put on Smith.
“Events as they unfolded at Muncie Central were viewed by a number of administrators and that includes some people at the administration building and not at the school,” said Shockley. “The same way that Mr. Smith viewed them. Nobody viewed the events, that afternoon, as potentially child abuse.”
Smith was convicted, his sentence consisted of suspended jail time, probation, and community service. After his conviction was overturned Smith’s life did not go back to normal. He is no longer the principal of Muncie Central High School though he has another job within the corporation.
“It was very stressful for, not just Chris, but also his family,” said Shockley. “There was a lot of publicity surrounding this whole matter, it was a very unfortunate matter for the school and Chris suffered a great deal through all of that.”
Student Steven Moore was charged with raping the student. Moore was 16, but was tried as an adult. He pleaded guilty to the rape and was sentenced in 2011.
Two members of the Court of Appeals sided with Smith, one did not. The member who dissented said Smith’s actions ignored, “the common-sense conclusion that when a child is the victim of abuse – regardless of the age of the perpetrator – the act is abuse of a child.”
Shockley knows Smith is still guilty in the public’s eyes and his life will never be the same.
“It is hard to get your story out when public reaction was the way it seemed to be during this case,” said Shockley.
Shockley said the incident has forced the Muncie Central School Corporation and other schools across the state to come up with a better plan to prevent something like this from happening again.
The process Smith is not over yet. The Attorney General’s Office can file a motion to have Smith’s case heard by the Indiana Supreme Court. The Office has 30 days to file that motion.