Augustine Benton (Source: Darlington County Detention Center)
HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - A Pee Dee area teacher has been released from jail, facing allegations that she continuously assaulted her students during this school year.
That teacher, 65-year-old Augustine C. Benton of Cheraw, teaches at North Hartsville Elementary. She was arrested and charged with assault and battery after recent allegations of abuse with the classroom.
The incident report Hartsville Police filed on March 18 states the school's principal contacted them when several students came forward. Those students claim the abuse had been going on for several months.
After further investigation, Benton was taken into custody, but police reports do not give much detail about the alleged abuse or why she was charged. She has been released from the Darlington County Detention Center on bond.
The Darlington County School District released this statement about Benton's arrest on Monday, April 15:
This afternoon an arrest warrant was served for a North Hartsville Elementary School teacher charging the teacher with assault and battery towards a student. When the allegations regarding the teacher's conduct towards students were first brought to the attention of the school and District administration, the teacher was placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation. After a preliminary District investigation, and in an abundance of caution, the Darlington County School District administration notified the Hartsville Police Department of the situation. The District has fully cooperated with law enforcement. As part of the investigation, school administrators contacted the parents of the children involved. Following the investigation by law enforcement, the Hartsville Police charged the teacher with assault and battery.
"All teachers are expected to behave in a professional manner toward our students and other adults," said Dr. Rainey Knight, district superintendent. "This is an unfortunate situation; however, the safety of our children is always our primary concern."
Because there is an ongoing investigation, the school district is not able to comment further on the matter.
Reporter Ken Baker is in Hartsville working to bring you the latest information on this developing story.