Wethersfield principal accused of suspiciously following, photog - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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Wethersfield principal accused of suspiciously following, photographing children

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John Bean (Hartford police) John Bean (Hartford police)
Attorney William Paetzold said his client, John Bean, couldn't appear in court on Wednesday due to health issues. (WFSB photo) Attorney William Paetzold said his client, John Bean, couldn't appear in court on Wednesday due to health issues. (WFSB photo)

The principal of an elementary school in Wethersfield was scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday after an arrest at a Hartford Walmart.

John Bean, principal of Highcrest Elementary School, is accused of following children around the store and attempting to take suspicious photos of them, according to a police report.

However, he didn't appear in court due to unspecified health issues, according to his attorney, William Paetzold.

His next court date was slated for Oct. 18.

Bean was spotted using his work phone on the store's surveillance system.

He was arrested over the weekend at the Walmart plaza on Flatbush Avenue, according to police.

Police said he was trying to take the photos when the children were not in the immediate vicinity of their parents.

The children were girls between the ages of 6 and 8.

They said he was keeping his phone in his hand with a small toy package in order to hide the phone. He would point it at the children in an inconspicuous manner, police said.

"The patterns of him moving around the store were certainly suspicious to the security guards and the officers," said Hartford Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley.

An officer in the store approached Bean and asked him what he was doing.

He told them he was shopping.

The officer asked Bean if he'd been taking pictures of children. Bean looked down and away.

The officer told Bean that he was being detained.

Bean resisted as the officer attempted to cuff him.

Police said Bean never questioned what was happening. He only asked if he was under arrest and stated he didn't do anything.

Once in the security office at the store, officers said he refused to give them his name or what he did for work.

The officers told him to unlock his iPhone to clear up the matter. Bean refused and asked if he needed an attorney.

Officers said Bean was charged with second-degree breach of peace and interfering with police.

His iPhone was seized and the SIM card was removed.

Bean was placed on leave by school officials.

Superintendent Michael Emmett released a statement on Wednesday:

As you know, I placed Mr. Bean on administrative leave, effective September 26, 2016, after learning of his arrest during the weekend.   

The matter remains under investigation by the Hartford Police Department, and the district is conducting its own investigation concerning this matter as well.

As I indicated previously, since the matter remains under investigation, it would not be appropriate for me to comment concerning the events leading to Mr. Bean’s arrest. 

I can assure you that this matter is being treated as a matter of the utmost importance. 

As always, our most important priority is the safety and well being of our students, and the continuity of high quality instruction for our students.  Those will continue to be our top priorities.

Hartford police said during the initial investigation, they contacted Wethersfield Police Chief and Wethersfield Board of Education Security. BOE, then, "took immediate action and has been forthright in their assistance in the investigation," police said. 

The Department of Children and Families were notified about the investigation. 

There was a police investigation last year, after Bean was being harassed by a Wethersfield resident.

When police met with this suspect, who reportedly has mental issues, he told police there were sexual assaults being committed against kids at Highcrest, but were being covered up.

Police say they're looking into it, but they don't believe this is at all related to this case.

Bean will be back in court in mid-October. 

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