Crime & Courts

Ridge View teacher absolved of charge that he assaulted student. Still has bitter end

A Richland District 2 teacher who maintained his innocence against an accusation he beat up a student was vindicated in court.

Karon Wilson Jr., a former Ridge View High School math teacher, had charges of third-degree assault and battery and breach of peace dropped after a magistrate court hearing Thursday. The assault charge could have landed Wilson 30 days in prison and a $500 fine.

Nothing less than a dismissal of the charges was acceptable, Wilson said. “That’s what we got today.”

In May, Wilson, 38, turned himself in at Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center after an altercation in his classroom.

A group of students including a 15-year-old came into his class after lunch when they weren’t supposed to be there, Wilson said.

A police report shows that Wilson told a school resource officer that the 15-year-old student pushed him. The student swung and hit Wilson in the head. Wilson said that he “began to defend himself because he wasn’t going to just allow (the student) to hit him.”

Video of the altercation was posted on social media.

The student’s guardian decided to pursue charges against Wilson. Police also charged the student with assault and battery and breach of peace. His case was handled in family court. Because he’s a juvenile, court officials and police, by law, cannot discuss the teenager’s case or the outcome or if he was punished.

“I defended myself,” Wilson said standing outside the courthouse. “I was in my classroom. That young man had no business being in my classroom. He wasn’t even my student.”

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Wilson and his lawyer, state Rep. Seth Rose, showed up at court ready to fight the charges in front of jury, they said. Students joined them to testify that Wilson was innocent. Rose was going to assert a stand your ground defense and attempt to show how a student attacked Wilson.

But none of that was necessary. The 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office offered to drop the charges with no admission of guilt if Wilson agreed to community service. His record will be expunged.

“No public school teacher should be put in the position that when they are being threatened or attacked, that they can’t defend their safety or their students,” Rose said.

Wilson took the deal and is glad to move on. He’s also moving on from teaching. After a 14-year career, the incident and the legal battle took his spirit for being in a classroom.

“I pray no other teacher has to go through this,” Wilson said. “It’s hard enough being a teacher. We have to deal with a lot of stuff each day. ... We can leave the profession which is what is happening not only in South Carolina but across the nation in numbers. We’re leaving in the masses.”

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David Travis Bland won the South Carolina Press Association’s 2017 Judson Chapman Award for community journalism. As The State’s crime, police and public safety reporter, he strives to inform communities about crimes that affect them and give deeper insight into victims, the accused and law enforcement. He studied history with a focus on the American South at the University of South Carolina.