John Ward, Montgomery Co Sheriff's Ofc
TROY, N.C. -- John Ward, a former Montgomery County Schools principal, pleaded guilty to sexual battery for having sex with a 16-year-old student.
A paternity test revealed he's the father of the girl's baby. Now, Ward wants to leave the state.
Darren Allen, the assistant district attorney, calls the sentence a "just result" but Lt. Howell with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office calls it disturbing.
According to the District Attorney's Office..."state sentencing laws would not have allowed an active sentence for Ward given his offense and record level."
Ward is the former principal at Montgomery Learning Academy. In January, prosecutors charged him with indecent liberties with a student and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. A paternity test revealed he's also the father of the student's child.
"He's the principal of a school. He knows that he's in charge of these children. He's supposed to protect these children and mentor these children. He's not supposed to take them to his house and have sex with them," Howell said.
The Montgomery County District Attorney's office reached a plea deal with Ward. Ward pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of sexual battery. He was sentenced to 24 months probation and is registered as a sex offender for the next 30 years.
Allen told WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford that he agreed to the lesser charge because Ward turned himself in and cooperated with authorities.
"We were kind of disturbed and shocked at the plea agreement. Anytime you charge somebody with these types of charges, we expect them to get some kind of active sentence in jail," Howell said.
The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office told WFMY that since the girl was 16, state law doesn't allow for a statutory rape charge. The DA's office says jail was never an option for Ward. Ward was given permission to move to Georgia where he has a job in construction.
WFMY uncovered that five employees with Montgomery County Schools were charged with inappropriate relations with students in a span of 13 months. Charges for the former volleyball, wrestling and football coaches are still pending.
WFMY News 2, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office