Plaza Academy director charged with failing to report a sexual assault to Missouri authorities
Executive Director Ward Worley was charged with one misdemeanor count of a mandated reporter failing to report child abuse.
The executive director of The Plaza Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, has been charged with one count of failing to report to state authorities an alleged sexual assault on campus.
Ward Worley, 56, was charged with failure of a mandated reporter to report child abuse or neglect, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the county jail and a $2,000 fine.
The charges stem from a sexual encounter between a 17-year-old student and another student under 14 at the school near 39th and Broadway, according to court documents filed by the Jackson County Prosecutor's office. Detectives say Worley was alerted to the sexual encounter but "the incident was never hotlined to Missouri Children's Division" and the younger student's mother "was never made aware of the disclosure," according to court documents.
The mother recorded a meeting with Worley at which Worley said "he did not hotline the incident as he did his own investigation and neither child disclosed" the sexual encounter, investigators wrote. Detectives also discovered Worley was made aware of the incident in February but it wasn't called in to the state hotline until May.
“My child will forever be impacted by the sexual abuse he endured at (Plaza Academy), abuse that could have been stopped almost as soon as it started had Ward done his job as a mandated reporter,” the mother said in a statement. KCUR is not naming her to protect the identity of the alleged minor victim. “My heart aches for each unsuspecting student and parent who has entrusted Ward Worley to educate and project their children,” she said.
Worley is a graduate of Plaza Academy and was appointed executive director in 2013, according to his biography on the school's website. He is also a licensed professional counselor, according to records from the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.
A call to Plaza Academy seeking comment wasn't immediately returned. KCUR will update this story with their comment if the school responds.