Headlines – 11/26/2002

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Panolian : November 26, 2002

For complete stories, pick up the 11/26/02  issue of The Panolian

Girl, Mom File Suit Against SPHS
Plaintiffs Say Officials Negligent in Dealings With Its Former Coach

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A 15 year-old Batesville girl and her mother contend that a former South Panola football coach is not the only one at fault for the emotional, physical and spiritual damage allegedly sustained at the coach’s hands.

The civil law suit, filed in Panola County Circuit Court, names the South Panola School District, South Panola High School, Superintendent Dr. C. L. Stevenson, South Panola Principal Dr. Del Phillips, Eldridge D. "Bubba" Bonds and unknown John Doe(s) as defendants in the case.

The complaint was filed by attorney Daniel M. Czamanske Jr. of Clarksdale on behalf of the plaintiffs. The complaint filed states:

"In November, 2001, Plaintiff was a student given to the care, custody and control of the South Panola School District, specifically the South Panola High School. As such, Defendants, each and every one, owed a duty of care to provide a safe environment for the students of South Panola High School."

This civil suit stems from a criminal case against Bonds in which he is charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of forcible rape involving the same 15-year-old Batesville girl.

According to the complaint, on or about the week of Nov. 12, 2001, the Plaintiff was negligently, intentionally and recklessly exposed and subjected to sexual conduct and/or sexual assaults by Bonds during school hours.

The remaining defendants were named and accused of negligence for failing to properly supervise Bonds, negligently hiring Bonds, negligently failing to fire Bonds when he should have been fired and otherwise condoning the conduct of Bonds by ignoring the situation.

It is also alleged that as a direct result of other defendant’s negligence and Bonds’ conduct that the plaintiffs were caused to suffer severe and permanent injuries, including but not limited to pain and suffering, counseling expenses, emotional suffering, psychological trauma, humiliation, shock, embarrassment and other damages.

School District attorney Colmon Mitchell said there is no comment on the pending litigation.

The plaintiffs are seeking in excess of $75,000 for these damages.

Holly Springs attorney Kent Smith, who represents Bonds in his criminal case, said his office is currently investigating the allegations made in the civil suit.

"We are investigating these allegations just as we continue to investigate the remaining allegations of the criminal indictment," he said.

"At this time, I do not know who will be representing any of the defendants in the civil suit, and I have not seen any appearances filed."

In other developments in the matter against Eldridge D. "Bubba" Bonds:

District attorney Robert Kelly has filed a motion to reconsider the recently dismissed 12 counts of sexual battery that occurred between the fall of 1997 and May of 2000.

The motion indicates that it is unknown if the alleged sexual battery ceased in May of 2000.

"My firm is presently drafting a response to the state’s motion to reconsider," Smith said. "I anticipate the court scheduling a hearing for this matter as well as other motions during the month of December.

"Other than that, I have no further comment on the matter," he said.

Smith has a motion pending that would sever all charges so the alleged victims charges can be heard individually, as well as a motion asking that the case be moved out of Panola County, indicating the pre-trial publicity has already prejudiced any potential jurors.

Crossing Project Eyed …
The railroad crossings in the Public Square may be repaired to give motorists a smoother ride if the price tag isn’t too high.

BATESVILLE – Motorists traveling over the railroad crossings in the Public Square could be in for a smoother ride if repairs prove to be affordable.

City Engineer Pete Sullivan will submit plans – which include options of redoing the crossings with timbers or by rubberizing them – for approval by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

If the project is done, the cost will have to be borne by the city, Sullivan said. Neither MDOT nor railroads participate in such crossing projects unless there is a safety issue.

Once plans are given the nod, the job, including both timber and rubber options, will be advertised for bid.

About six years ago, Sullivan said a Highway 35 crossing on Highway 35 just north of Crown Cork & Seal Co. Inc., was replaced using timber.