Local News

January 20, 2012

Laurel County School administrator indicted

Charged with sex abuse, unlawful transactions with minor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Another negative slap against the local school system came Friday with the indictment of a school administrator.

Charles Douglas Phelps, 52, was indicted by a Laurel grand jury on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and two counts of third-degree unlawful transaction with a minor.

The charges stem from two separate incidents occurring on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 of last year. The indictment states that Phelps subjected a 14-year-old girl to sexual contact on two different days — once on Nov. 3 and twice on Nov. 5. He is also accused of providing alcohol to the minor-age child on both occasions, which constitutes the unlawful transaction with a minor charge.

In addition, he is also charged with subjecting a 17-year-old to sexual contact on Nov. 5.

Phelps was not present in court Friday morning to answer the charge and Laurel Circuit Judge John Knox Mills ordered a $15,000 cash bond and a warrant be issued against him.

Phelps has been the director of pupil personnel for the Laurel County School System since 2002. Prior to that, he taught at Keavy Elementary School since 1989.

Phelps has reportedly been on suspension with pay since Kentucky State Police began their investigation into the incident mid-November. Though the matter is a personnel issue, the Laurel County School System issued the following statement on Friday afternoon:

“The Laurel County Schools have received notification an indictment was returned on Mr. Douglas Phelps. We have not seen the indictment at this time, but we have requested a copy of it.

“Our first and primary concern is the protection and safety of our students. We have cooperated with law enforcement and the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and will continue to do so in their investigation and prosecution of this matter. Because this is a personnel matter, the Laurel County School District is limited by law in its public discussion. Law enforcement have access to information and evidence that the Laurel County Schools do not have, and if law enforcement and the Commonwealth’s Attorney can share this information with the Laurel County Schools, we will take appropriate employment action based on that information. At this time, because the grand jury has just now returned the indictment, we do not have this information. We are respectful of both the rights of Mr. Phelps and the position of the Commonwealth Attorney and law enforcement officials.

“However, due to the serious nature of the allegations, the Laurel County Schools assures the public and parents of children that until this matter is resolved, the school district has taken steps that Mr. Phelps will not and does not have contact with students through his employment in the Laurel County Schools.”

Phelps’ dilemma comes just two months after former school superintendent, David Young, resigned just days after a DUI arrest on Nov. 19. Young was jailed on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and prescription pills not being in their proper container. Young’s case is still pending in Laurel District Court.

However, prior to his resignation, Young placed Phelps on suspension with pay, following allegations of the alleged inappropriate actions with the two minors named in the indictment.

As of press time on Friday afternoon, Phelps had not yet turned himself in to police to answer the indictment.

Staff Writer Magen McCrarey contributed to this story.

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