MADISON COUNTY, Ind. – A suspected child molester is behind bars because of a note a teacher caught students passing back and forth in class.
Police say Paris James Voss was booked into the Madison County Jail on Friday on charges of child molestation. He accepted a plea agreement and was sentenced to six years. That sentence will run concurrent with another child molestation sentence out of Marion County.
According to court documents, police learned that Voss molested at least two children after one of the victims told a classmate. Police say two girls were passing notes in a classroom when one girl wrote in the note that she had been abused and molested. One girl then wrote, “I have been there before.”
A teacher caught the two passing the note back and forth and after reading what was written inside, the teacher informed the school counselor. The proper authorities were contacted.
This case brings up an important conversation about how educators need to be vigilant and are on the front line of our children’s safety. Court documents do not list what school this happened at where the teacher intercepted the note, but thankfully, that teacher and counselor did the right thing.
“We have conversations every year regarding how to handle rumor mill items, notes that get passed,” said Tim Smith, the Superintendent of Anderson Community Schools.
Again, this incident did not happen at Anderson Community Schools. However, Smith says, it’s a lesson every teacher needs to hear.
“We want to help everyone in our community that we can,” said Smith, “but unfortunately sometimes there are things going on we don’t know about and that’s what we really have to focus on.”
Smith says each year his teachers and staff go through training to look for unusual behavior and if necessary they call in help.
“Contacting DCS, getting your administration involved, potentially the police involved, and we go through all of those steps just to make sure everybody knows we are here to keep our kids safe,” said Smith.
In this case, a teacher caught the students passing a note, but often times Smith says it’s not that easy to see. There are many factors teachers and counselors have to keep in mind.
“Technology has brought in new avenues for kids to communicate and they’re not always good,” said Smith. “Through social media, we get a lot of posts and tweets and snapchats, and different things kids are into today.”
Smith says it’s about knowing what to do in hopes you never have to do it, whether educators are dealing with mental health, bullying or online threats.
“When I’ve talked to my colleagues in Noblesville and Richmond who have dealt with school shootings and to hear the stories of the staff who have been through the training and when the incident occurred they knew exactly what to do and those actions saved lives,” said Smith.
Saving lives and holding people responsible, now included in the job title of teacher.
“It’s something we have to do so that our school corporation and our community stay safe from these types of events,” said Smith.
Again, this incident did not happen at Anderson Community Schools.