Teacher charged with aiding runaway
By CHRIS BROWN / Journal Staff Writer
CHARLES TOWN — A Jefferson High School teacher was arraigned Tuesday on misdemeanor charges that she contributed to the delinquency of a minor and provided false information to police. Nancy B. Rickert, 37, of Charles Town, was charged Tuesday in Jefferson County Magistrate Court with helping a 17-year-old girl run away from home and allowing the teenager to stay at her house.Rickert is identified as one of the girl’s past high school teachers in a criminal complaint filed by West Virginia State Trooper J. J. Phillips.The teacher was implicated by the girl’s foster mother, who told police she heard from one of her daughter’s friends that her foster daughter was going to Rickert’s house.Phillips said that on Nov. 21 he went to Rickert’s house to question her about the missing girl. Rickert said that the girl had stopped by the house to talk on Nov. 20. According to the report, Rickert said that the girl was having problems at home and asked to stay at Rickert’s house that night. The girl stayed the night, Rickert told police. Rickert said that she asked the girl what she wanted to do, and the girl said that she wanted to be with her sister and that she would meet her at their biological mother’s house. Rickert dropped the girl off to meet her sister on Nov. 21.When Phillips attempted to locate the girl at her biological mother’s house, the mother said she had not seen the girl. The runaway girl’s sister also denied having seen her, according to Phillip’s report.Phillips returned to the biological mother’s house on Nov. 25, again attempting to locate the runaway girl. Phillips was accompanied by State Trooper V. Branham, who guarded the rear of the house, in case anyone tried to leave. The girl’s biological mother again denied having seen her, but when Phillips left the house, he found the girl talking to Branham.Branham and Phillips returned the girl to the custody of her foster parents on Nov. 25. The runaway told police that she had an argument with her foster mother on Nov. 19, and packed clothes and taken them to school with her on Nov. 20.The girl said she “bounced around from friend to friend’s house” until she traveled to her biological mother’s residence, police said. She said that she arrived there just an hour before police took her into custody. Rickert has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and providing false information to the Department of Public Safety, and she was arraigned by Magistrate Mary Paul Rissler Tuesday. If she is convicted of the first charge, she could face up to one year in prison, and a fine of between $50 and $500. If she is convicted of the second charge, she could face a fine of between $25 and $200 and up to 60 days in jail.She was released from custody on a $2,500 cash bond Tuesday. Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Steve Nichols was unavailable for comment regarding Rickert’s status with the school system. When contacted, several board members indicated they hadn’t heard anything about the charges.“At this point, I don’t know any details,” board member Gary Kable said. “I personally won’t do anything until I hear from the administration.”— Staff writer Chris Brown can be reached at (304) 725-6581, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Michael C. Lewis contributed to this story.