“When the teacher did nothing wrong and still gets charged, it makes a sad story,” Bell’s attorney, Rick Lyerly told
“She is actually the real victim in the case.” Bell was an assistant principal at Pelham High School in late 2013 when rumors of an inappropriate relationship with a student began to swirl.
The student has since stopped cooperating with prosecutors and now admits the supposed relationship never happened, a Shelby County judge wrote in an order dismissing all charges on Monday.
A judge has dismissed the career-ruining charges against Catherine Bell, 34, a year after she was arrested and lost her job as a result of the scandalous allegations.
"I know that sounds, like, really messed up, but there was a point where I was just away from all that and I was by myself and I was safe."Pen pal Thousands of miles away, Senior Chief Ramous K. Curtis, who did not wish to be interviewed for the 2009 story, had another year added to his sentence when a hurricane knocked down a prison fence and he was among a group of inmates who ran in 2004.
Fleming said he speaks with Curtis on a weekly basis and that he is doing great. If calculations for "gain time" or "good behavior" are correct, Catherine will leave prison on July 28, as a 30-year-old married woman who has never driven a car, texted on a cellphone, walked a high school hallway, gone on a job interview, attended a dance or surfed the Internet."After spending all of my teenage years and most of my young adulthood behind bars, I'm being released into a foreign society so different from what I left behind," she wrote in a letter to Florida Today last year."Of course there are fears, mainly because there's so much I must learn to function like a normal person: how to drive, fill out job applications, text, dress for a job interview, build my credit, obtain life, dental, medical insurance. The idea of being 30 and completely dependent on others to teach me how to do these basic things isn't appealing.
It didn't stop with Curtis."He would make me perform oral sex to the point where I would throw up," Catherine told me in 2009, adding that her father and his girlfriend, Speights, did not believe her.
Catherine never knew Curtis was also being sexually abused until one day, while walking to Space Coast Middle School, he told her that he believed her story — because it was happening to him as well. All the allegations were easily verifiable through records — including child welfare reports, sheriff investigations and school memos — collected by lawyer and Florida State University professor Paolo Annino who tried to get clemency on their behalf. He was spending a little free time on the Internet looking through crime stories from his home state of Florida. A few years later he searched the Internet for the story again and found the video that Florida Today did with her.