RICHMOND — Former Richmond High School principal and assistant principal went before the 8th Circuit court on Tuesday on charges of failing to report the neglect of a child under age 18 in May 2019.
Former principal John Eli Parker and assistant principal Brad Begemann were formally charged in March of this year.
According to the Richmond Police Department probable cause statement, neither administrator reported Begemann’s then-23-month-old daughter being mistakenly left in a vehicle for more than five hours on May 29, 2019.
The child was found restrained in a car seat in a locked minivan around 12:20 p.m. by a grandmother picking up her granddaughter on the last day of school. The woman contacted school staff who then rushed outside to the aid of the child. A staff member appeared ready to call 911, but apparently did not, according to the witness. The grandmother allegedly overheard Parker tell staff, “We need to watch how we handle this.” The witness said she asked Parker if he was contacting the school nurse after learning the child was in the car for a long time. He allegedly answered, “We’re handling this just fine.” In his interview with police in June 2019, Parker said he never spoke to the woman who found the child. He told police he did not stop staff from calling 911. Had he thought the child was in danger, he would have called 911, he told police. Although sweaty, the child appeared to be unharmed.
Certain professionals, like school administrators and teachers, are by law mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
In Begemann’s interview with police and the Division of Family Services, the former assistant principal initially said he took his daughter to the family doctor after the incident, according to court documents. After being pressed by a DFS caseworker for the physician’s name, Begemann said he “misspoke.” After discussing the situation with his wife, the couple chose not to seek medical attention, because the child appeared to be fine. He allegedly told investigators he made a mistake and forgot his sleeping daughter in the back of his vehicle.
Ask why he didn’t hotline the incident as required by law, Begemann told police he was in a state of shock and therefore didn’t consider it.
Richmond police Det. Scott Bagley checked historical weather data from 7 a.m. to 12:53 p.m. to determine temperatures were between 67 to 71 degrees with high humidity. Vehicle interior temperature with that length of time could have temperatures exceed 115 degrees, according to Bagley’s analysis.
Police say they learned of the incident only after the witness who originally found the child in the minivan contacted police a week later to learn of the child’s condition.