By Mark Barnes
A letter sent to the Melba School of Directors on August 8, 2013 from Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue informed them that the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will not be filing any criminal charges at this time. The Ada County Sheriff’s office was asked by the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office to investigate allegations of obstruction of justice, failure to report a crime and witness intimidation by members of the Melba High School administration and Melba School District officials. (See Kuna Melba News, “Investigators look into Melba School District obstruction allegations,” June 5, 2013) The request was made to the Ada County Sheriff’s Office to investigate in order to avoid a conflict of interest that could affect the criminal charges involved with the suspect involved at the center of these allegations.
In the letter, Sheriff Donahue reasserted his concern regarding the school district conducting a parallel investigation as problematic for law enforcement purposes.
“The administrative investigations in this case apparently included the questioning of alleged victims, possible witnesses and suspects in a potentially criminal matter,” said Donahue. “More troubling, the record suggests that school officials released witness statements to potential or actual criminal suspects or their parents. In my opinion, these decisions can cause victims to relive the trauma of the events and subject them to unnecessary ridicule and continued abuse from suspects or other students, give potential suspects opportunity to make their ‘story’ fit the facts, and otherwise compromise the ability of law enforcement to investigate or prosecute crime. A parallel investigation by the school, even when well-intentioned, can also lead to victims and their parents refusing to cooperate or even report subsequent criminal acts, an obviously unintended and avoidable consequence.”
“The administration had followed district policy and contact the correct people and did a good job of handling the issue,” Melba Superintendent Andrew Grover said to Kuna Melba News. “There was not any surprise on our part that there are no charges being brought. I believe you will find the same from the Ada County detectives as well.”