CHARLESTON — Saying she wished she could impose a more severe punishment, a Kanawha County judge on Tuesday sentenced a former Holz Elementary School teacher to 10 years in jail for battering three special education students in her classroom.
Nancy Boggs, 67, will serve a year in the South Central Regional Jail, the maximum sentence allowable, for each of the 10 misdemeanor counts of battery she previously pleaded guilty to, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers ruled.
“You turned your classroom into a place of what can only be described as torture,” Akers told Boggs. “The mental, verbal and emotional abuse during these physical attacks, this court finds to be conduct aggravating in nature and outweighing any mitigating factor presented to this court.
“This court finds these offenses are brutal and malicious in nature against multiple children with exceptional needs who are among the most vulnerable in our society, and to whom the defendant was entrusted with their care and education in a public school by their families.”
Akers played several videos that captured the incidents that led to the charges.
The videos showed Boggs’ various acts of battery, which included hitting, hair pulling, pushing, slamming a child’s head onto a desk and pulling a chair out from underneath a child, causing them to fall.
The judge also noted Boggs’ verbal abuse, which included telling one child, “You’re bad, nobody wants you. Mommy doesn’t want you. Daddy doesn’t want you. Not even God wants you.”
“I don’t know what on Earth would possess a person to say that to a child,” Akers said. “I have no idea ... what would possess that person to say it to an exceptional child, who cannot understand, cannot communicate and is completely vulnerable.”
In delivering the sentence, Akers said, “I sincerely wish, Miss Boggs, that I could give you more.”
Boggs’ attorney, David Moye, told the judge his client is remorseful and noted that she has never offered any type of excuse for her behavior. He said a psychologist had written a letter on Boggs’ behalf.
“Your honor, I think that there were some things that were going on with Miss Boggs during that time that caused her to do what she did,” Moye said. The attorney asked for an alternative sentence to jail time, noting Boggs’ age.
“She understands, and we know today is this final phase of this punishment, and she’s ready to accept that,” Moye said. “We’re asking, your honor, that, due to her age and due to the fact that our system is set on rehabilitation, not punishment, and we really don’t believe, your honor, that incarceration is going to do anything other than what she’s already gone through. And [she’s] going to carry this for the rest of her life, that she is now convicted of harming a child. And, in this case, three; she’s going to carry that the rest of her life as punishment.”
Addressing the parents of her victims, Boggs said she was sorry for what the children and families had gone through and for breaking their trust.
“I accept full responsibility for the harm that I’ve caused you,” she said.
The court heard from the parents of each of the three students.
Parents Beth and Craig Bowden said they had sought out Boggs to be the teacher of their 9-year-old child.
“Nancy Boggs tutored my son in our church, unsupervised one month prior to all this happening,” Beth Bowden said. “Essentially, we feel like she chose [him]. We feel like she put [him] into a situation that she knew he was going to see bad things, whether or not she justifies it in her head or not of what she was doing. She knew, even if she was overwhelmed by what was going on in her classroom, she knew.”
Bowden said she forgives Boggs so that she can move on but does not forgive what she did.
“I will never unsee it, and my trust in people is gone,” Bowden said. “Our children are the most vulnerable, and you knew that. You knew that. They’re the most vulnerable, and you made our worst nightmares come true.”
An attorney representing the parents of another victim read a letter because they were unable to attend.
“We wish we could take a line from the movies and say, ‘After this day, we will never think about you again,’ but your actions have so deeply affected our child that we bear nearly constant reminders of what you have done,” the letter read. “You broke our child. Your words, your tone, the actions, the physical abuse, caused trauma of such depth that we aren’t sure he will ever fully recover. People say children are resilient, but that is a lie. Trauma never fully heals; it embeds in the brain. Here we are, nearly one year since the abuse, and we can tell you that the trauma in our son is very much overwhelming for him and for our family on a daily basis.”
Boggs will get credit for six days spent in jail but none for being on home confinement. She was remanded to the custody of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office to be taken to jail.