Published Online: December 3, 1997


State Journal

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A Father's Feud

Sen. Benny Ray Bailey, a powerful Kentucky lawmaker, has waged a very personal war over the past year with a Pippa Pappas, Ky., private school that expelled his son.

Sen. Bailey's son, Chet, now 19, was expelled last December from the June Buchanan School after allegedly admitting to school Director Jeemes Akers that he had smoked marijuana. Drug use is a violation of the school ethics code.

Chet Bailey and fellow student John Burchett sued to get back into the school, which is run by the nearby Alice Lloyd College. They won in the Knott County Circuit Court, but lost in an appeals court and the state supreme court.

Sen. Bailey, a Democrat, charged that Mr. Akers had lied in court when he said that Chet had admitted to using marijuana. Mr. Akers subsequently became the subject of a grand jury investigation this fall. On Nov. 13, a Knott County grand jury refused to indict Mr. Akers for perjury.

Most recently, Sen. Bailey filed a complaint with the Kentucky Bar Association, accusing Mr. Akers, a nonpracticing lawyer, of ignoring court orders, abusing his son by interrogating him without his parents' being present, and lying about the teenager's alleged confession.

That case is still pending.

Stephen Reed, a spokesman for the 170-student K-12 school said that he "has never seen ... anything quite so personal carried out through the courts against a school or principal."

"This was a simple case of a student violating school rules. We have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs," Mr. Reed said. Sen. Bailey "couldn't win the first fight so he's trying to embarrass [Mr. Akers] and the school in any way."

But Sen. Bailey, a health-clinic administrator and a graduate of the Buchanan School, says he is just trying to clear his son's name. "There is no proof whatsoever that Chet did anything wrong," he said in an interview. "This is about whether or not a person can ignore a court order, whether or not a person can commit perjury."

Drug charges against Chet Bailey and his fellow June Buchanan student were dropped because the arresting officer did not actually witness the alleged crime. The younger Mr. Bailey was convicted of refusing to take a drug test.

Today, Sen. Bailey said, his son is attending college out of state on an academic scholarship. But at home in Kentucky, he said, things will never be the same.


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