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Riverdale student’s family alleges conflict of interest, calls for new investigation

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"It is disgraceful that they did not disclose this conflict of interest,” says Dan Margolis, the attorney for the family of 6-year-old Ian Nelson.

The family of the kindergartner at Riverdale Elementary School in Mount Blanchard wants the misdemeanor charge against teacher Barb Williams thrown out.  They’re calling for a new investigation and new charges by a different law enforcement agency.

The attorney for the Nelson family says the suspect's husband is so closely connected to the Hancock County Sheriff's Office that it was a conflict of interest for those deputies to handle the investigation.

"If you see here, there's a picture of Jim Williams sitting next to Barb Williams, the defendant,” says Margolis as his points to his print-out of the Facebook page of Jim Williams.  He is the husband of the kindergarten teacher seen in surveillance video last month in the hallway of Riverdale Elementary School disciplining a student.

Jim Williams, a pastor in Mount Blanchard, is one of five chaplains for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.  The Facebook page also says he’s part of the county’s stress management team which helps firefighters and law enforcement officers.

"They're too close,” says Margolis from his Cleveland office. “He's part of that family. He's essentially a member of the law enforcement community. They could not investigate one of their own objectively."

This week, Findlay Municipal Court records show the chaplain’s wife Barb Williams is being charged with misdemeanor child endangering.

Margolis calls that, "An early Christmas gift for Mrs. Williams, in my opinion."

Margolis is calling on the Attorney General’s Office to appoint a special prosecutor for a new investigation.

"The sheriff's office never contacted my client, never contacted Ian Nelson, never contacted his parents,” says Margolis. "The singular misdemeanor charge speaks volumes of what I believe is an agenda."

Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman denies the allegations.

"The deputy who handled the case doesn't even know Jim Williams because he {Williams} works with the jail side of it,” says Heldman. “I don't see where there is any connection whatsoever."

Jay Feldstein, the Toledo attorney representing the Williams family, says, “We have no comment regarding the alleged facts and circumstances of the case.  We will address those issues at the appropriate time and place which is in courtroom.”

Riverdale Local School District suspended Barb Williams for ten days without pay. 
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