Grand jury indicts Hopewell teacher for abuse

11 counts for harming special education students

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MILTON, Ga. — A Fulton County grand jury returned an 11-count indictment Dec. 12 against a former Hopewell Middle School special needs teacher for allegedly abusing children in her care.

Thirty-four-year-old Melanie Pickens is charged with cruelty to children and false imprisonment in connection with the physical abuse of five Hopewell Middle School students.

The alleged abuse occurred between 2004 and 2007 at the middle school on Hopewell Road. According to the investigation, the victims, most of whom were non-verbal, were either pushed, shoved into lockers or left in isolation for hours on end.

The alleged abuse of one student was discovered in 2007 by school officials and then reported to the Department of Family and Children Services. The case was initially handled as a human resource matter centered around the abuse of that child. A civil suit involving that single victim ensued years later and led to the discovery of four other potential victims.

The case was eventually brought to the attention of law enforcement and a criminal investigation was launched. The case was forwarded to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office in May 2012.

Pickens resigned her position in 2007.

A grand jury warrant has been issued for Pickens’ arrest. The case will now be assigned to a Fulton County Superior Court Judge and scheduled for trial.