Teacher arrested, charged with child molestation

By Sara Belsole

COLUMBUS, GA – Muscogee County teacher, 43-year-old Cristina Preston, was arrested last night on four charges: two counts of child molestation, and one count each of enticing a child and sexual assault against a person in custody.

“When we have an allegation like this it is a shock to parents, it's a shock to students, it's a shock to us as administrators, to the whole profession,” Muscogee County School Superintendent Dr. Susan Andrews says.

A statutory rape report was filed with the Columbus Police Department earlier this week allegedly involving Preston and a 14-year-old who attends Preston's school.

The report alleges the incident took place at Cooper Creek Park off Miligen Road just after midnight on Monday.

“It's a very serious charge and we are taking it very seriously,” Andrews says.

Preston teaches Special Education at Veteran's Memorial Middle School. The School Board says she is a 19 year veteran and has a Master's degree.

 Preston has been placed on administrative leave with pay for ten days.

“During the ten day suspension, we are going to evaluate all of the allegations and circumstances relating to the allegations and determine what the next steps are,” Andrews says.

If the School District finds evidence to support the allegations, a hearing will be held.

Counselors were on hand today at Veterans Memorial to talk with the students.

“The principal has been meeting with students in teams to discuss the situation with them, to confront it with them and to let them know that they are asking the students to have empathy for

All the parties,” Andrews says.

The School District says it knows it also wants to keep parents' trust.

“They have a right to be concerned. They send us those children and they expect them to be protected and they expect our employees to be at the highest professionalism as we do,” Andrews says.

 Preston is being held in the Muscogee County Jail. She is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Friday morning.