Appeal Denied To Recuse Judge In Child Sex Cases In Perry

Friday, July 14th 2017, 7:58 pm
By: News 9

A Noble County judge will preside over the case against two former Perry educators accused of failing to report child abuse.

On Friday, a judge denied the state's appeal to remove Associate District Judge Nikki Leach. 

"We are putting the community of Perry, Oklahoma on trial," said Cameron Spradling, the attorney for the victims.

Spradling had hoped for a different ruling. 

"If there's any connection to that school any connection at all, maybe Noble County isn't the right place for this case," Spradling said.

That connection is the fact Leach's daughter-in-law works at the school. Leach is presiding over the cases of former Perry Elementary Principal Kenda Miller and former teacher Jeffrey Sullins. The pair is accused of not reporting allegations of child abuse at the school.

"Fifteen little girls were being molested by a serial child molester," he said.

The alleged abuse was at the hands of former teacher’s aide Arnold Cowen. The 86-year-old faces 21 counts of child sex crimes including lewd or indecent acts with a child and aggravated child pornography.

"We do live in a small community so it affects everybody," said Pastor Kim Hays, First Baptist Church in Perry.

Pastor Hays said the scandal has shaken the small community's sense of security.

"It's important for us to keep in mind the children involved and pray for them," Hays said. "It affects their whole lives."

However, he said the town will heal

"I think at first it was quite a shock but I think it's gone to bringing us closer together," he said.

Judge Leach is not presiding over the case against Cowen. Cowen's next court appearance is set for September 22.