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Prosecution, Defense Present Closing Arguments in Crenshaw Trial

Jury deliberations continue in the trial of former Mifflin High School principal Regina Crenshaw. She was fired by the Columbus school system for failing to immediately report an assault on a 16-year-old student. Closing arguments were presented Wednesday.

Assistant city prosecutor Melanie Tobias reminded the jury that the state had not said Regina Crenshaw was a bad person, a poor administrator, or an uncaring principal. But Crenshaw did fail, according to Tobias, to immediately report suspected abuse to the police or children's services.

"Defense may argue to you, 'You know she's going to involve the police; she's going to report it; they're coming back at 7:30 the next morning.' Where's the immediacy in that? It's 3:30 on March 9th. How is coming back at 7:30 the next morning make it an immediate report. And the word immediate means something, that's why it's in the statute," Tobias said.

Tobias said the state had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But Crenshaw's attorney, Toki Clark, disagreed. She said her client immediately went into action when she learned about the assault. She portrayed as apathetic the police officer who had been assigned to the school but was training that day at the police academy. It was that officer who Regina Crenshaw had instructed an assistant to notify about a meeting with the girl's father the next morning.

"At 1 o'clock on March the 9th, that's the earliest we can document this incident occurring, and then by 7:45 a.m. March the 10th, there's all kinds of police at the school. Peace officers know, Columbus police officers know, everybody knows within a relatively short time frame," Clark said.

Clark said Crenshaw is being made a scapegoat for the failures of other people. She said the former teacher and principal cared so much for her students that she prayed for them.

Regina Crenshaw did not testify during the trial. Juvenile Court Judge Kim Browne reminded jurors it was Crenshaw's constitutionally-protected decision and that they could not consider that lack of testimony in deliberating her guilt or innocence.