Allegations of witness intimidation land local principal behind bars

Posted at 6:54 PM, Feb 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-09 20:05:12-05

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) principal is accused of intimidating a rape victim as she was preparing to testify in court.

Washington High School senior DeJon Williams was in disbelief after he received the news that his principal is behind bars.

"I thought it was a joke at first. I thought it wasn't real," Williams said. "I thought people was just saying that. It's still a shock to me right now."

Washington High School Principal Valencia Carthen and her alleged romantic partner, Jason Cunningham, are both charged with intimidating a witness.

"We see that fairly frequently, we do," Jane Foley said.

Foley works in the District Attorney's office, and supervises the domestic violence victim department. Foley said intimidation tactics like the ones employed in this case happen all too frequently in Milwaukee County.

"For a lot of these women that's very heartbreaking to see another woman pretending that this didn't happen to her when she knows what her truth is," Foley said.

In this case, Cunningham is accused of beating and raping his then girlfriend. According to a criminal complaint, months later his new girlfriend, Principal Carthen, visited the victim's home, and told her not to attend court and leave town. Investigators say she also delivered a recant letter, allegedly from the victim, to the suspect's attorney's office.

The victim claims she grew concerned for her children's safety as MPS students, which further motivated her cooperation with defendants Carthen and Cunningham against the prosecution.

"I know my principal personally, and I can't even see her doing something like that," Santino Sutters said.

MPS released a statement acknowledging the allegations. Carthens has been removed on an emergency basis while the criminal proceedings continue.  

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