Crime

Star Middle School principal, wife accused of abusing 2 children

Recognizing signs of physical child abuse

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.
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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

The principal of Star Middle School and his wife are accused of abusing two children in their care during a three-year period — and last week were charged with felony injury to a child.

Tony D. Nelson, 50, was indicted by a grand jury last Thursday, and a warrant was issued for his arrest that day, according to court records. He was charged with two felonies.

Pamela W. Nelson, 49, was charged with three felonies. She’s accused of withholding food from the children, locking one child in a room for long periods of time, and hitting one with a spoon in the buttocks so hard that it left bruises. The children are now 10 and 14 years old.

The crimes allegedly occurred on or between Jan. 1, 2016, and Jan 24., 2019, the indictment shows.

Tony Nelson is accused of causing “unjustifiable physical pain and/or mental suffering” and threatening the health of two children by allowing food to be withheld and causing them to become malnourished, according to the indictment. The second count also alleges that he allowed the older child to be locked in a room for long periods of time and to be struck by Pamela Nelson.

The indictment does not say where the alleged crimes occurred, other than in Canyon County.

West Ada School District spokesman Eric Exline told the Statesman on Monday morning that district officials were aware that county detectives were investigating a “domestic issue that occurred at the Nelson home.”

“We were not aware that the investigation had led to charges being filed until the day Mr. Nelson turned himself in,” Exline said.

Nelson has been with the West Ada School District for about 27 years, previously serving as Eagle Middle School principal for 11 years, according to the district. He’s been principal at Star Middle School since April of 2018.

He has been placed on paid administrative leave. Star Middle School Vice Principal Tyler Pence will serve as acting principal, Exline said.

Tony and Pamela Nelson were both arraigned Friday. They were appointed a public defender, court records show. Both posted $100,000 bond and were released from the Canyon County jail. No-contact orders were put in place to prevent both of the Nelsons from contacting the children.

Tony Nelson is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. May 28 in 3rd District Court at the Canyon County Courthouse in Caldwell. Pamela Nelson will be arraigned in 3rd District Court at 8:30 a.m. June 10.

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