Former PHS administrator seeks clear record after sex charges dropped
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
COLUMBIANA – A former Pelham High School assistant principal who had multiple sex charges against her dismissed in December 2014 is seeking to have her record cleared of the charges, and is looking to re-obtain her teaching certificates.
Attorneys for Hueytown resident Catherine Bell filed motions for expungement in Shelby County Circuit Court on April 30 asking Judge Dan Reeves to clear Bell’s record of the charges.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office arrested Bell, who was an Alabaster resident and an assistant principal at Pelham High School at the time, on Dec. 12, 2013, and charged her with three felony counts of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 and one misdemeanor count of a school employee having sexual contact.
All charges were dropped against Bell in December 2014 after the alleged victim “recanted and is no longer cooperating with the prosecution of these cases,” according to the court order dismissing the charges against Bell.
According to Bell’s expungement petition, “All four cases were dismissed as the alleged victim acknowledged the events alleged never occurred.”
In exchange for the charges being dropped, Bell agreed to a “full, complete and absolute release” against the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Pelham Police Department and the Shelby County Public Defender’s Office.
Bell resigned from her position at PHS in February 2014 after she was placed on administrative leave, and surrendered her professional educator certificate and her professional leadership certificate at the request of the Alabama Department of Education.
If the charges are expunged against Bell, all records tied to the four charges will be removed from the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, Shelby County Circuit Court, Shelby County District Court, the Alabama Department of Education, the Shelby County Board of Education, Pelham High School, Shelby County Juvenile Court, the Shelby County Department of Human Resources, the Pelham Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
“She is also entitled to the return of her professional certificates, reinstatement in her former position or an equivalent position and back pay,” read her expungement petition.
As of May 11, Reeves had not yet made a decision on the petitions, and no future court dates were listed in Circuit Court.