Alderman Confession Prompts Magistrate And Prosecutor To Request Recusal
Marlinton, WV – When Norman Alderman was arrested for stalking Pocahontas County Commissioner David Fleming, there was no indication of the bizarre twist yet to come. Alderman’s confession that he is in possession of sensitive school data during a preliminary hearing in Pocahontas Magistrate court has prompted Special Magistrate Charles D. Beard and Pocahontas Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price to recuse themselves from further proceedings in a felony case against Alderman.
Alderman was arrested and charged in August, accused of harassing and stalking Commissioner Fleming by use of a computer. He was also accused of encouraging others to ascertain Flemings’ address following a divorce earlier this year. Those charges were originally dismissed by Beard when he ruled that Magistrate Kathy Beverage hadn’t been impartial when issuing the arrest warrant.
Subsequently, Alderman asked that all of his computer equipment and related information seized during the arrest be returned to him. He admitted both on his own blog and to the local paper that he was concerned that sensitive board of education information in his possession could be leaked. This is information he was privy to as the technology consultant to the Pocahontas County BOE, including social security numbers, dates of birth, and other private information about students and teachers. He says he also has information from Greenbrier, Roane and Cabell Counties. Alderman was fired from his Board of Education position in 2006 for insubordination.
When Alderman came to the Pocahontas Courthouse in October to retrieve his computer equipment, he was arrested for felony possession of computer data belonging to another. The complaint was filed by the Pocahontas Board of Education and substitute teacher Rebecca Clayton.
Magistrate Beard didn’t buy Alderman’s argument that he is authorized to still have the information, telling him that when he was terminated by the Board he had an obligation to return all information belonging to the board. Beard also said that because he heard Alderman’s confession concerning the information, he could no longer consider himself neutral and detached in proceeding with the case, and therefore recused himself. Investigator Major David Walton said he wanted to obtain a statement from Beard as part of the investigation into the felony case. Likewise, Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price also recused herself from the case.
As getting a new magistrate and prosecuting attorney could take several weeks, the case may not be ready to present to the Pocahontas Grand Jury when they meet on December 7th.
Thanks to Pocahontas Times Editor Pam Pritt for the information in this report.