Jackson County teen won't return to school

MCKEE — A gay student who said three classmates tried to kill her won't return to Jackson County High School this year, her mother said Thursday.

Dee Johnson said she is concerned her daughter, Cheyenne Williams, wouldn't be safe if she returned to finish her senior year.

Even if the girls accused of attacking Williams weren't back at school, some of their friends would be, Johnson said. Johnson said her daughter has enough credits to graduate.

Corbin attorney Tim Crawford, who represents the county school board, said it's not surprising that Johnson would want to withdraw her daughter. But Crawford said if Williams came back to school, officials would do everything possible to ensure her safety.

One of those charged in the attack, Ashley Sams, 18, of Annville, was to be arraigned Thursday, but the hearing was postponed.

Sams and another 18-year-old charged in the attack, Corinne Schwab, are now scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Families of both posted their $25,000 bond this week so they could get out of jail.

Williams told authorities that Sams, Schwab and a 17-year-old classmate whose name has not been released assaulted her April 16 and tried to push her off a cliff. Williams said Thursday she did not want to comment on the incident.

Sams and Schwab are charged with kidnapping and attempted murder. Williams' mother said the attack was a hate crime, motivated by the fact that her daughter is openly gay.

But the detective handling the case said he would not characterize the alleged attack as a hate crime. It appears the incident started as a prank but escalated to the point Williams was frightened and sustained minor injuries, said Detective Joie Peters.

Peters plans to present the case to a grand jury, which could retain the current charges or return lesser ones.

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