POINT PLEASANT — The ongoing case of Cameron Moffett allegedly abusing 11-year old Zachary Plants continues and another suit is now involved, this time against the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).
Attorney Mike Clifford, who is representing the Plants family in a federal lawsuit against Moffett and the Mason County School Board, stated on behalf of the family that a protest and grievance has been filed against the DHHR. This suit is in response to a leaked investigative report from the DHHR claiming there was not sufficient evidence to convict Moffett of child abuse. The report surfaced on several media outlets out of Charleston and described Plants’ version of the incident, as well as the statements from the teachers who witnessed the alleged abuse and statements from Superintendent Suzanne Dickens. It was reported this report was not to be made public.
“It was clear that the leaking of that report by the DHHR was contrary to state and the internal policies of the DHHR,” Clifford said.
As previously reported, when the grand jury indictment list was released, Moffett’s name was not on it, which concludes that either an indictment was not handed down to Moffett or the case was not presented. Media outlets reported on Thursday afternoon that Moffett’s case was not presented to the recent Mason County Grand Jury, though no official report has come to the Point Pleasant Register from Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Damon Morgan, whose office would have presented the case if in fact it was presented on Monday. If the case was presented and no indictment was returned, those files are not public record and are not available to view.
Moffett’s case was set to move ahead to the Grand Jury following a preliminary hearing on April 23, where Mason County Magistrate Gail Roush found probable cause in the case against Moffett. It was at this hearing that there was overwhelming support for both Moffett and Plants, which was also evident by Roush’s decision to move the proceedings into the larger circuit court courtroom.
Moffett’s attorney Jim Lees argued at the preliminary hearing the state doesn’t have evidence to support the charge of child abuse, stating there has to be intent to harm the child. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Sherry Eling argued at the statute on child abuse applies to any person who abuses a child or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury.
There was also some slight controversy surrounding Moffett’s preliminary hearing in regards to the Mason County school calendar. An Instructional Support (IS) day was originally scheduled for Friday, April 20, meaning there was no school that day. Many students has planned on being off that day, in order to prepare for their prom later that night. But the IS day was rescheduled for Monday, April 23, due to the large number of requests from school staff for personal leave on that day. This in turn meant there was now school on Friday, April 20. Dickens reportedly changed the IS day since there would have not been enough substitute teachers to provide supervision for the students on April 23, had there been school. Students who had scheduled appointments for prom preparations were not penalized for attending those appointments on April 20, providing an excuse was provided by the student.