A Suffolk teacher's assistant is accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old child.
Police say Paul Andrew Bess, 59, turned himself following his indicment on charges of aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a child.
Bess is alleged to have sexually assaulted the child at Nansemond Parkway Elementary School in June.
Bess is on admininstrative leave from his job there, according to officials.
He was hired by Suffolk Schools in August 2006 and a "successful background check was completed. He has since had exemplary evaluations,” according to spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw.
Bess is being held in Western Tidewater Regional Jail with no bond.
In a letter to parents Monday, principal Keith Hubbard said the Department of Social Services had conducted an investigation into this alleged incident in August and determined that the charges were unfounded.
He also made sure parents knew counselors are available if needed.
PRINCIPAL'S LETTER TO PARENTS:
October 5, 2009
Dear Parents & Guardians:
Student safety is a top priority in Suffolk Public Schools, and we want to keep families informed of situations as soon as we are able.
As you may be aware from media coverage, a teacher assistant here, Paul Bess, has been charged with aggravated sexual battery. The alleged incident was reported by a student to have happened in June during school hours. Because of the arrest, Bess has been placed on administrative leave until the allegations are resolved through the judicial system. At the time he was hired in August 2006, a successful background check was completed, and he has since had exemplary evaluations.
In August, the Department of Social Services conducted an investigation into this alleged incident and determined that the charges were unfounded.
I know as a parent such an allegation is troubling. The school works diligently to provide a quality education for all children, and to maintain a safe learning environment where students can trust the adults responsible for their care. In light of this incident, you might find an opportunity to talk with your child about these sensitive issues. If you feel your child would benefit from talking to a guidance counselor now or in the future, please call the school at 923-4167 and share your concerns.
Thank you for your concern and your efforts to keep Nansemond Parkway Elementary School a safe school.
Nansemond Parkway Elementary School