- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

PERRY, Okla. (AP) - An Oklahoma judge said he will consider a relative’s testimony before deciding whether to recuse himself from a school child abuse case.

Judge Nikki G. Leach reset a hearing Thursday for Upper Elementary School Principal Kenda Miller because his daughter-in-law, who works at the school in Perry, couldn’t appear in court, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/2qmGrUh ) reported.

Miller and Jeffrey Sullins, a math teacher at the school, are accused of failing to promptly report child abuse after several girls allege a teaching assistant, Arnold Cowen, inappropriately touched them. Cowen has since been charged 18 counts of lewd or indecent proposals or acts on a child.

Sullins and Miller are charged with misdemeanors. Prosecutors have asked Leach to remove himself from both Miller’s and Sullins’ cases, noting that his daughter-in-law “directly recruited” Cowen to the school.

But the judge said Thursday that he would make a decision after listening to his daughter-in-law’s testimony.

“I’m gonna want to know what her testimony is going to be so I can determine whether it is material or not,” Leach said. “If it’s not material, then that would have an effect on how I decide.”

Leach’s daughter-in-law, Lucinda Leach, received a subpoena on Monday to appear as a witness for the prosecution. The judge said she was unable to attend because she underwent surgery on Wednesday.

Leach has recused himself from Cowen’s case. Prosecutors argue the judge “has taken actions that show a bias toward” Miller and Sullins relating to their arrests.

Miller’s hearing was rescheduled for May 31.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com


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