Former assistant principal pleads not guilty to sex charges

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A Shelby County Circuit Court judge will decide in September if he will uphold charges against a former Pelham High School assistant principal who has been charged with having sexual contact with a student.

Bell

Bell

Catherine Michelle Bell, 33, of Hueytown, pleaded not guilty on July 18 to three felony charges of a school employee having sex with a student younger than 19 and one misdemeanor charge of a school employee having sexual contact with a student.

Bell, who previously listed an address in Alabaster, was arrested by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 12, 2013, and charged with three counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19. She was released from the Shelby County Jail on bonds totaling $120,000 the same day she was arrested.

Bell was charged with the crimes after turning herself in to authorities at about 2:45 p.m. on Dec. 12.

According to her arrest warrants, Bell allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with an underage male student three times between December 2012 and November 2013. The incidents happened at an Alabaster residence, a Birmingham residence and in a vehicle off U.S. 280, according to the warrants.

She was ordered in her arrest warrant to not have contact with the victim.

Bell’s arrest came after a Shelby County Sheriff’s Office investigation, during which Bell was placed on administrative leave before she resigned from her position in November 2013.

Bell’s not guilty plea came several days after her attorney, Jonathan Lyerly, requested Reeves dismiss the charges against Bell. In his motion to dismiss the charges, Lyerly claimed the “alleged victim was not a student during this entire time,” and said the charges should not be upheld.

Lyerly claimed the indictments against Bell violate the U.S. and Alabama constitutions, Bell’s 14th Amendment rights, her “right to submissive due process under federal and state law” and claimed the indictments were “unconstitutionally vague, uncertain and impermissibly broad.”

Reeves is scheduled to make a decision on Lyerly’s request to dismiss the charges during a Sept. 29 hearing at 8:30 a.m. at the Shelby County Courthouse.