• Ex-special needs teacher indicted over alleged abuse


    A Fulton County grand jury has returned an indictment against a former special needs teacher accused of abusing Alpharetta middle school students.

    Melanie Pickens, 34, was indicted Wednesday on 11 counts of child cruelty and false imprisonment. Five Hopewell Middle School students were abused from 2004-2007, according to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office.

    "It was an everyday of living hell," one victim’s parents told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik last year.

    That parent, Lisa Williams, is suing the district over the abuse and accusing school officials of covering it up for years. During a November 2011 hearing in the case, witnesses said they saw Pickens curse at students, kick them and, in several cases, pass gas in their faces. Wednesday’s indictment also accuses Pickens of shoving the non-verbal students in lockers and abandoning them for hours.

    The allegations were first reported by school officials to the Division of Family and Children Services in 2007. The case initially involved one student, but four other potential victims were discovered afterward.

    Pickens has since resigned from her position.

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