Eley cleared

Published 10:28 am Monday, February 15, 2016

PETERSBURG, VA – A felony charge against a former Bertie High School principal has been nolle prossed, or withdrawn.

Rickey Eley, a 20-year veteran of Bertie County Schools, had been facing a felony charge for allegedly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident that occurred Oct. 17 in Petersburg, VA. The incident also reportedly involved a minor.

That charge – as well as an additional misdemeanor charge – was withdrawn during a court hearing Tuesday, Feb. 9, according to court records.

A police report of the incident states there was about $5,000 in damages to each vehicle.

Eley was arrested at his Suffolk, VA home the day following the alleged incident.

He stepped down as principal at the high school on Nov. 19 and his resignation became effective Nov. 30.

“The charges were bogus from the beginning,” Eley said in a telephone interview. “I’m just glad the truth came out. I didn’t like the way the process played out and I didn’t like the way I was portrayed in the media, but the truth came out and now I’m just trying to move forward.”

Eley said the entire process on Tuesday took less than 15 minutes after his case was called.

“I literally walked into court with my lawyer,” Eley recalls. “He had a two-minute conversation with the (District Attorney). They then called my case, I walked up before the judge and the DA said to the judge ‘We want to withdraw all charges’.

“The judge said you’re free to go,” Eley said. “I wasn’t in there 15 minutes.”

Eley’s attorney, Todd Stone, had maintained that Eley had remained at the scene following the accident and dialed 911 to call police. For the first time, Eley gives his version of what took place. He says he was riding with his wife when the collision occurred.

“When the accident happened we got out of the car,” Eley recounted. “I dialed 911 and I had the (cell) phone records to show to my lawyer. It showed the date and time the call went out and how long the call was. When the police showed up I gave my license and insurance paperwork. We stood there and had a conversation and he finished his investigation in about an hour and a half. The tow-truck came and towed both vehicles. We then crossed the four-lane highway and called a cab to get back to our hotel.”

Eley says his arrest the following day took him by surprise.

“My wife called me and said there were two police officers at the door with warrants from Petersburg for my arrest,” Eley said. “My initial reaction was I was angry because I knew the things they were saying I was charged with I hadn’t done. I just felt degraded kinda like a second class citizen being treated the way that I was treated.”

Eley says he’s thankful for Stone, his family, church, fraternity and the colleagues who supported him along the way. He says he’s now in the process of getting the charges expunged.

As for his career, Eley says he’s going to begin sending out resumes next week. He did say he’s not going back to Bertie County Schools because, according to him, “It’s time to start anew.”

“My time there is over,” he conceded. “It’s just time to move forward.”

In addition to two tours as principal at Bertie High, Eley had also been principal of Windsor Elementary School and Colerain Elementary School.

He has also been a teacher at Bertie High, an assistant principal at the school and a co-principal at BHS. In addition to those roles, Eley served the school system as Director of Operations, Director of Student Services, Director of Food Service, Maintenance and Transportation, and Principal of Bertie Academy. He was also an assistant coach for the Bertie High football team under legendary coach Roy Bond and served as BHS girl’s track coach.

“It (the incident) kind of rubbed me the wrong way,” Eley concluded. “It is what it is, and it’s over now. I just want people to know what’s true.”