Trial set for former Rapides Parish principal charged with a count of cruelty to juveniles

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 11:26 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - A jury trial has been set for Sept. 25, 2023, for the former principal of Phoenix Magnet Elementary School, who was indicted in April 2022 on a count of cruelty to juveniles.

John Grimes has pleaded "not guilty" to a charge of "cruelty to juveniles."
John Grimes has pleaded "not guilty" to a charge of "cruelty to juveniles."(RPSO/KALB)

The investigation into John Grimes started on Sept. 10, 2021, when Harli Matt, the mother of a four-year-old boy pre-K student, came forward with a complaint about an unauthorized corporal punishment paddling. Matt went to the Alexandria Police Department and told them she observed two “hand-sized whelps” on the child’s bottom that were “turning black and blue.”

Matt was identified as the boy’s mother through civil court filings after she filed a civil lawsuit in Sept. 2022. Matt claimed that it was the boy’s fifth day at the school and he was apparently sent to the principal’s office by his teacher for talking during nap time.

The civil lawsuit states that Grimes made a decision to administer corporal punishment “without first trying alternative, preferred methods under RPSB policy.” More details about the civil lawsuit can be found here. The civil suit has been continued without a date as the criminal matter proceeds.

The police investigation ended up in the hands of a grand jury in April 2022, and that led to the cruelty to juveniles charge. A month after the indictment, the Rapides Parish School Board voted to eliminate corporal punishment, which had been in place since 1976.

Grimes pleaded “not guilty” to the charge.

Grimes is represented by George Higgins. Assistant District Attorney Gerald Weeks is prosecuting. Judge Patricia Koch is presiding.

Click here to report a typo. Please provide the title of the article in your email.