NATCHITOCHES, LA (KSLA) - A Natchitoches Parish school principal is charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to juveniles following an incident involving a student.
Bobby Joe Benjamin, 41, was arrested Monday, following an investigation by the Natchitoches Police Department prompted by a call on March 16 from the parent of an 11-year-old boy who came home from the Frankie Ray Jackson Technical Center in tears, saying he had been struck multiple times by his school's principal.
The boy reportedly told his mother that the principal had taken him into the boys' restroom where no one else was present and slammed him up against the wall, causing his head to hit the wall.
The boy also claims the principal then punched him in the chest with his fist, and that he was then taken to an unoccupied classroom where he was poked in the chest with the principal's paddle before he was allowed to return to class.
However, the boy's mother says her son was immediately taken out of his class a second time and taken back to an unoccupied classroom and paddled by the principal.
"He put his head down, he had two big old knots on his head," said Lessie Latchie, a family friend of the student. She was shocked to find out who the boy says hurt him.
"He said the principal kept hitting him against the wall, kept butting his head against the wall," she said. "I said is your head hurting, he said yeah," said Latchie.
The juvenile was later taken to Natchitoches Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries allegedly suffered in the encounter with the principal.
Police say further investigation led to the discovery of additional facts which led to Benjamin's arrest.
Benjamin was booked in to the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center on charges of cruelty to juveniles, aggravated battery, simple battery and second degree battery.
He has since been released on a $9,500 property bond.
According to Natchitoches School Superintendent Dale Skinner, Benjamin's is suspended with pay, "He has been accused of some charges that are fairly serious. We are always going to put kids first, we are going to investigate it, then we are going to do what we need to do," said Skinner. "We are going to be fair to everyone. But we are going to do the things anyone would do, we are going to make sure everybody gets a fair shake, we are going to make sure we are protecting our students and we are going to protect our personnel."