Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wamala trial delayed

From "District may vet workers more fully" at The Boston Globe (bold italics are mine):
Job candidates and volunteers in the Lowell school system may soon have to undergo a national criminal background check before they are hired.

The policy change is being considered by school and law-enforcement officials as a way to address concerns about the system already in place....

Concerns about background checks were prompted by the arrest last September of Severine E. Wamala, a math teacher at the high school. Wamala, 45, a Uganda native, was arrested on charges of sexually molesting three young women, ranging in ages from 15 to 23, in New Hampshire.

At his arraignment in Nashua, Wamala pleaded not guilty to 24 charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault and 11 charges of incest. The alleged assaults did not involve students from Lowell High School, where Wamala also organized the chess club. He is being held on $1 million bail in Manchester.

His trial had been scheduled to convene this month, but has been delayed, according to Patricia LaFrance, assistant county attorney for the Hillsborough County Attorney's office. At the time of his arrest, Wamala was living in Nashua. He moved there after living in Lowell.

Martin said Wamala had undergone a CORI background check for the Lowell job, but it did not reveal the fact that he had been arrested previously in New Hampshire on other charges. Martin did not have details of those charges.

The information had not been relayed to Lowell officials at the time of Wamala's hire, said Martin, who explained that the district learned of his record only after his arrest in connection with the assaults.

Wamala was hired as a substitute math teacher in 2003 and promoted to a full-time teacher in 2004. A year later, he was promoted to mathematics department chairman.

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