CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A Mingo County teacher agreed to resign and give up his teaching certificate in exchange for a judge to dismiss multiple sexual assault charges against him this week.
James "Jimmy" Hiram Keatley II was indicted on three counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of battery in July. Keatley, 48, had been a math teacher and boys basketball and football coach at Matewan Middle School. In December 2011, State Police began investigating allegations he groped, kissed and made inappropriate comments to two female students in front of others.
During a pretrial hearing Monday, Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury dismissed the charges after Keatley tendered his resignation and agreed to surrender his teaching certificate.
Thornsbury also ordered Keatley to have no contact with the alleged victims or their families for the rest of his life. Keatley is prohibited from entering school property except for parent-teacher conferences, graduation ceremonies or football and basketball games, Mingo County Prosecutor C. Michael Sparks said.
He's also barred from chaperoning any school dances or proms.
"We don't want him around any adolescent girls and we think these stipulations accomplish that," Sparks said.
Keatley must also drop a grievance he filed against the Mingo County Board of Education regarding his December 2011 suspension.
Keatley tendered his resignation on Dec. 13. He's no longer paid by the state or by Mingo County, said state Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro. Keatley then surrendered his teaching certificate on Monday, Sparks said.
Sparks said authorities would watch Keatley closely to make sure he's following the conditions of the agreement.
"If at any time he violates the terms, he can be prosecuted on the charges in the indictment or prosecuted on upgraded charges," Sparks said.
Sparks said the agreement was the best solution to shield the teens from more grief.
"Our goal was to save those young girls the ordeal of having to go to trial," he said.
Sometime from September 2011 to November 2011, Keatley allegedly made inappropriate comments and groped one 15-year-old victim. He also allegedly kissed another 15-year-old victim in front of about five other students and a teacher in his classroom. The teacher who witnessed the alleged assault reported the incident to the principal, who then notified police.
Messages left at Keatley's public phone listing were not returned Wednesday night. Hester Keatley, his mother, returned the call and said she didn't wish to make a statement at this time.
A relative of one of the girls said she was upset when she learned of Keatley's agreement on Wednesday. She feels better, however, knowing he could be punished at anytime for failing to meet the terms.
The woman said her relative and the other girl were harassed and bullied by many people who said they were lying.
"I'm glad the girls told the truth," the woman said. "I'm happy to know they helped other children he could have done this to. They did this for them, not for themselves."
People in Matewan discussed the girls' allegations frequently on a social media website called Topix, where people anonymously write and read negative comments.
Some people said the accusers deserved what happened to them because they dressed promiscuously. Other people said family members coaxed them into making up the allegations. More who commented defended Keatley and said they would wait for the truth to come out.
"The truth is he gave up his teaching license without fighting for it," the relative said. "What does this tell the public?"
Reach Travis Crum at travis.c...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.