Foothills Academy staff members charged, fired after KSP investigation into juvenile injuries

Posted April 7, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Three staffers at Foothills Academy, located in Albany, have been arrested and charged with assaulting residents, according to a release issued by the Kentucky State Police last week.

KSP was notified by the Clinton County Hospital on March 29, in reference to a juvenile who had been brought in with injuries sustained at Foothills Academy.

Gabriel Martin, 18, of Albany, is charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault, along with Cecil Nevels, 24, of Monticello, who was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault.

Martin’s first charge, assault in the fourth degree, resulted from an incident in which he got on top of a male juvenile that had suffered a broken clavicle as the result of Nevels tackling him to the ground according to the incident report filed by Kentucky State Police Trooper Jason Warinner. Martin remained on top of the juvenile for approximately 30 seconds.

Martin’s second fourth-degree assault charge was because he grabbed the victim, a juvenile, by the neck and slung the victim to the ground and then got on top of the juvenile for an extend period of time, according to the incident report.

Nevels, according to the incident report filed by Trp. Warinner at the Clinton County Jail, laid onto one of victim, a juvenile, for an extended period of time, after the victim had been slung to the ground by another employee of Foothills Academy.

The second-degree assault charge on Nevels, a Class D felony, was charged because Nevels ran and blindside tackled a juvenile from behind and tackled the juvenile to the ground. As a result, the juvenile suffered a broken clavicle, according to the incident report. Also according to the report, Nevels remained on top of the juvenile for approximately thirty seconds.

Nevels tackled another Foothills Academy resident “for no legitimate reason,” then hit him several times while he was on the ground, Trp.Warriner said in the complaint.

Trp. Warriner said in criminal complaints filed at the Clinton County Jail that the charges against Nevels and Martin arose from assaults on two different Foothills Academy residents.

Also charged was Chris Dunagan, 20, of Monticello, with one count of fourth-degree assault according to the KSP press release, but Dunagan’s complaint report was not available.

All three were arrested on March 31, 2021.

“We do a lot of good things and it’s unfortunate this happened,” Former District Judge and President of Foothills Academy Jeff Choate said.

Foothills Academy immediately fired Martin, Nevels and Dunagan and the incident was reported to the state Department for Community Based Services and the Office of Inspector General.

“This is not what we stand for,” Choate said of the assaults. “There’s never an excuse to harm a child.”

According to Choate, this was the first time in 18 years of the facility being open that a staffer had been charged with harming a resident and the three employees charged with assault had been trained in how to properly handle physical encounters and had no history of problems.

Nevels and Dunagan were lodged in the Wayne County Detention Center while Martin was lodged at the Clinton County Jail.