PARKERSBURG - A lawyer for Sasha Banfield has asked for a case against the Williamstown Elementary School teacher to be dismissed on the grounds police should never have detained a group of juveniles in the first place.
Banfield, 39, a fifth-grade math teacher at the elementary school and head varsity girls cheerleading coach at Williamstown High School, was arrested and arraigned earlier this week on three misdemeanor charges stemming from an Aug. 21 incident.
A criminal complaint was filed by Sgt. Brett Pickens of the Wood County Sheriff's Department. Pickens said police had responded to a report of a loud party in the area of Lake Washington Club Drive in Washington. Several juveniles at the party attempted to hide from police in a nearby woods but were later detained by police when they attempted to leave the area in two vehicles.
In the complaint, Pickens alleges Banfield presented herself as the parent of an unrelated juvenile when her daughter and a friend were detained by police after a loud party. While following up, Pickens alleges Banfield argued with him and finally admitted she was trying to keep the juvenile from getting in trouble with her parents. Though Banfield stated she never said she was the girl's mother, Pickens said, she later admitted she was wrong to hide the fact the girl was not her child.
According to the complaint, all three suspects admitted Banfield's daughter had sent her mother a text asking her to pretend to be the friend's mother, though Banfield told Pickens she had no intention of following her daughter's plan. Pickens said by acting as the juvenile's guardian, even though she didn't say she was, Banfield misled police and interfered with their investigation.
Banfield was charged Tuesday with obstructing justice, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and being an accessory after the fact of obstructing and released on a $3,000 bond. No hearing date has yet been set.
A motion filed this week by Banfield's attorney, Bill Merriman, argues police had no reason to pull over the car in which the two girls were riding.
"There was not an articulable reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle involved in the case and any information obtained from such stop is from the fruit of the poisonous tree and should be excluded from the cases and the case dismissed," he said in the motion.
Because of this, a second motion asserts "there is not probable cause to arrest the defendant in the criminal complaint" against Banfield, and asks for that case to be immediately dismissed.
Merriman was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Officials with Wood County Schools said Banfield returned to work Thursday.