Former South Bend Principal Faces Charges

By: Kari Huston Email
By: Kari Huston Email

January 11, 2005, that's when special education students first came forward to report sexual abuse by their teacher's aide Schmeca White. Students testified in court to the graphic sexual acts White committed, while their teacher was out of the room.

That teacher told Greene Intermediate School Principal, Lela Warren, what students were telling him about the abuse.

Warren is quoted in court documents as saying she did not view it as a "huge issue”.

Now, Lela Warren faces criminal charges for failing to report the sexual abuse.

“To have the strength to finally report this and to have no one do anything, I can't imagine what that does to the kids,” says former Greene teacher Chris Lorenz.

Lorenz says he was the second teacher students came to for help and that was 5 weeks after the abuse had been reported to Principal Warren. “I was beginning to wonder if it had been reported at all the first time,” Lorenz admits. “No one had investigated. No one had talked to me, and what really upset me was when I talked to the other teacher no one had talked to him.”

So Lorenz and the other teacher called Child Protective Services, and that investigation lead to felony charges and a conviction for Schmeca White. “I'd like to see someone from the school district talk to the parents and admit what happened,” Lorenz says. “They've never acknowledged it to these parents in any way.”

At tonight's school board meeting we asked Superintendent Dr. Robert Zimmerman to comment on the charges against Lela Warren. “We're concerned and we're looking into it, but that's about all I can share with you at this point,” Zimmerman says.

Warren is no longer the principal of Greene Intermediate School. She was made the Director of Student Services in what the district calls a lateral transfer. She has not been suspended from those duties.

Failure to report sexual abuse is a Class B Misdemeanor. Lela Warren will receive a summons to appear in court. She faces up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $1,000. Warren could not be reached for comment today.


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