Three More Arrests, Charges


Deputies have charged three more people in the investigation into a complaint from the parent of a Greenwood County School District 50 student who was reportedly abused by a former teacher (who lives in Clinton).

Ashton Elizabeth Hastings, 33, and Anthony Wayne White, 66, were arrested Monday and charged with failure to report child abuse, according to Greenwood County Detention Center staff. On Tuesday, Vernique Drewnell Seigler, 47, was arrested and charged with cruelty to children, said Jail Administrator Maj. Lonnie Smith.

On Feb. 27, the Northside Middle School resource officer spoke with school administrators about a woman’s report that she noticed bruises on a boy’s body. An incident report said photos showed bruising on his upper left arm and right leg, and school surveillance video showed Joel Leckie, a special education teacher (of Clinton), grabbing the student by the ear and appearing to hit him in the back of the head.

On March 11, officers reviewed more video, showing Leckie pulling a child’s hair and hitting a child in the back of his head, according to another report. Hastings appeared to be sitting at the same table appears to see this happen, but officers noted school staff said she didn’t report the act.

Video from Feb. 13 showed Leckie appearing to punch a child in the stomach, with the child doubling over and falling to the floor, the report said. On the same day, Seigler was on video attending to a student and then using her knee to strike a student in the left thigh to make them get up. White is seen standing behind Seigler when this happens, but did not report it to school staff, the report said.

Seigler told officers she used her knee as leverage, and that she would not use more force than necessary to get a child to stand, the report said.

Maj. Cody Bishop, head of the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office investigations division, said investigators took over the case and ended up arresting and charging 55-year-old Leckie on March 13 in connection with this case. As their investigation continued, he said they identified three other people they sought to charge.

Leckie is no longer employed by the school district, said D50 representative Johnathan Graves. It was not clear what roles Hastings and White played, nor did Graves’ statement address their employment status with the district. A report said Seigler was a teacher, and a faculty and staff page for Emerald High School lists White as a “permanent sub.”

Bishop praised the investigators involved, and their work piecing the case together.


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