A middle school principal in Fairfax County, Virginia, faces criminal charges for allegedly failing to report allegations of the sexual abuse of a student by a teacher.
Yusef Azimi of Thoreau Middle School in Vienna learned of the alleged abuse in October 2019 but did not report it to police or child protective services, county police said Thursday. He was a mandated reporter.
Teacher Matthew Snell was accused of committing sex acts with a student. One incident occurred inside the middle school, police say.
Parents said the duty to report possible abuse isn't only a legal responsibility; it's a moral obligation.
“It’s tragic because the principal of the school is the one person who is responsible for the health and safety of the children,” one father said.
An assistant superintendent sent a letter home to families, saying in part, “The Thoreau family has shouldered a series of tremendous burdens over the past academic year. Yet the community continues to galvanize to support and uplift one another."
Snell was charged with multiple felonies, including taking indecent liberties with a child by a person in a custodial relationship. The child’s mother contacted the school’s assistant principal after she found concerning messages on her son’s cellphone.
Search warrants show text messages from Snell expressing jealousy over the boy's girlfriend with texts saying “You chose her over me,” “We gotta chill in class” and “I’m tired of being ignored.”
The victim's mother told the school what she found, Snell left town and U.S. Customs and Border Protection found him in Texas.
Azimi, 41, of McLean, went on leave from the school after police learned of the allegations. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of failure to report suspected child abuse and turned himself in Wednesday to the county jail. He was released on $3,000 bond.