Ceglinski denies allegations against him, officials addressing concerns


McCracken County Schools Superintendent Brian Harper (center) speaks at a news conference Wednesday, flanked by Sheriff Matt Carter (left), County Attorney Sam Clymer (second from right) and Commonwealth's Attorney Dan Boaz. Principal Michael Ceglinski and Pupil Personnel Director Brian Bowland have been charged with official misconduct regarding alleged mishandling of sexual impropriety allegations against school staff and students.

The McCracken County High School principal and another administrator were charged after an investigation showed they failed to report sex abuse allegations regarding a teacher and student, law enforcement officials announced Wednesday.

Principal Michael Ceglinski and Director of Pupil Personnel Brian Bowland each face one count of second-degree official misconduct. Ceglinski also faces one count of failure to report abuse or neglect of a child.

McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter discussed the developments during a Wednesday news conference.

Ceglinski, through his attorney, Jeremy Ian Smith, denied the charges.

"Principal Michael Ceglinski has been suspended with pay from his duties at McCracken County High School after being charged with two misdemeanors alleging he did not report abuse of his students," Smith said in an email.

"These charges are nonsensical and illogical. Principal Ceglinski has never had any motive to fail to report the abuse of his students. In his 20 years as an educator, the last seven as principal of McCracken County High School, Principal Ceglinski has always made the needs and safety of his students a priority."

"Principal Ceglinski cooperated with the investigation and looks forward to trial where rumor and innuendo are not evidence. Principal Ceglinski looks forward to being judged by the facts."

Ceglinski began his career teaching biology at Lone Oak High School, and has served as principal at the consolidated high school since 2012 before the school's opening, according to a high school staff biography.

Bowland has worked in the school system since 1998, and served in his current position since 2014.

Carter began the news conference stressing the sheriff's department is committed to the truth, whether it exonerates or implicates the accused.

"We are to work just as hard to disprove someone has violated any laws as we are to prove that they have violated the laws," he said.

Capt. Ryan Norman detailed the allegations in four cases the office has been investigating, beginning Jan. 17.

Three involved allegations of inappropriate interactions between school staff and students -- some former, some current.

Of those three, only former volunteer fishing coach John Parks has been charged. He faces one count each of first-degree sexual abuse and possession of child pornography.

A fourth investigation involved 18-year-old student Princekumar Joshi, who also faces charges regarding soliciting a minor for sexual offenses.

Norman said school administrators did not follow mandatory reporting laws, instead conducting their own internal investigations.

County Attorney Sam Clymer stressed that mandatory reporting requirements regarding suspected abuse aren't limited to school staff or people in positions of authority over children.

"This reporting requirement applies to everybody," Clymer said. "You don't have to be sure. You don't have to be certain. You have to have a reasonable belief" that abuse is occurring, he said.

Clymer said anyone that has a reasonable belief abuse is occurring who doesn't report it could face criminal penalties.

He named law enforcement agencies, commonwealth's and count attorney offices, as well as the Cabinet for Health and Family Services as the proper agencies to report abuse. A supervisor doesn't count, Clymer said.

School Superintendent Brian Harper declined to answer multiple questions regarding the incident, citing the ongoing investigation, but he said training is scheduled for school staff next week regarding mandatory reporting.

Regarding the culture at the school, Harper said "definitely there's a problem, if we have this many allegations."

Carter urged any other students at the school who may not have previously come forward to bring their allegations to the sheriff's department.

"Our promise and our vow is to make sure that their case is investigated," he said.

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