School official testifies in trial

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dr. Robert Heffern, former Rowan-Salisbury Schools associate superintendent, took the witness stand Monday to tell what he knew about the affair between a former teacher and her former principal.

This is the first time during the trial that jurors have heard testimony from a school official.

In her lawsuit, Laurie Mendiola says Tony Helms forced her to have sex with him and threatened her job. She also says that the school system knew about the affair and didn’t do anything about it.

Helms says the affair was consensual.

Heffern testified that he first heard about the allegations from a parent and then contacted Helms to let him know people were talking.

Helms denied any inappropriate relationship.

Heffern admitted that he never contacted Mendiola about the allegations.

In November of 2004, Heffern said he received an anonymous letter about the allegations and sent it immediately to Superintendent Dr. Wiley Doby.

Helms resigned shortly after Doby and other school officials called him in for a meeting.

Testimony continues this afternoon. For complete details see Tuesday’s Salisbury Post.