Parent accused of inappropriately touching student at Norfolk school

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk man accused of inappropriately touching an elementary school student told WAVY.com police charged the wrong person.

WAVY/Walter Hildebrand
WAVY/Walter Hildebrand

Police arrested 56-year-old William R. Arney, Sr. last Wednesday at Bay View Elementary School. He is charged with aggravated sexual battery for inappropriately touching a female student on the buttocks inside the school.

Police allege the incident happened while Arney was dropping his own child off at the school.

“I would trust him with my children,” said Kathy Blanchard, whose grandchildren go to Bay View. “I would trust him with my life. I know there is no way, no way — beyond shadow of a doubt — he would ever do something like this.”

WAVY.com’s Anne McNamara met with Arney Wednesday. He denied an interview because of legal proceedings, but maintained his innocence.

A judge granted Arney bond Friday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April.

While parents are upset about the allegations, many seem more upset about the school’s response to the incident.

Parents received an automated call about a “security breach” Friday, the same day Arney was granted bond. Upon receiving that call, Bay View parent Larissa Williams called the school to get more information.

“At 1:15 p.m., I got a hold of Denise Green, the vice principal at Bay View Elementary, and was told, ‘no, there was no situation. We simply had a principal-for-the-day activity occur and while police were here they noticed we had slack security, so we just decided to tighten up a little bit,'” Williams said.

Parents received another call Tuesday, informing them of the arrest.

“A few days later, I get confirmation that, yes, indeed I was lied to,” said Williams, after receiving the second message.

Message sent to parents by Norfolk Public Schools:

Good Evening Bay View Elementary Families,

This is your principal, Deb Mansfield. Norfolk Police informed us today that they charged a Bay View Elementary School parent with sexual assault following a report by a student at the school that the parent had inappropriately touched them on the bottom while he was there dropping off his child. While the Police investigation was ongoing, we notified you of a security breach that had occurred, and reminded you of appropriate security procedures regarding parent access to our school. We appreciate your support for these procedures, which include:

– Entering and exiting the building only through the front doors

– Dropping students off at arrival at the front of the building, and picking them up at the office – safety patrols will escort any student needing assistance to breakfast or to their classes

– Reporting to the office to be checked in and receive a visitor badge before visiting other parts of our building

– Presenting a picture ID 

If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to please visit me in the school office or call me at 531-3030.

Norfolk Public Schools spokesperson Elizabeth Mather maintains the school updated parents right after the police confirmed the arrest.

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