School receptionist pleads guilty

The Hayden Elementary School receptionist charged with rendering a false alarm pleaded guilty last Thursday morning, according to Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey. Carmen Williams, 42, was sentenced to one year in the county jail. That sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation for two years.

The incident occurred earlier this month when police received a 911 call concerning a man with a gun on the Hayden Elementary School property, according to Operations Officer Tim Kent, of the Blount County Sheriff’s Department.

However, when authorities arrived on the scene it was confirmed there was no threat, and according to Kent, Williams said it was a joke.

She was arrested and taken to the Blount County Jail where she later posted bond set at $15,000, Kent said.

After her plea, Williams was also fined $500 and ordered to issue a public apology in which she stated:“My actions on Friday, Oct. 16, had the potential to put a lot of children, faculty, staff, and law enforcement in grave danger. My actions are inexcusable, and I take full responsibility for those actions. I apologize to and ask forgiveness from the Hayden community, the Blount County Board of Education, and all law enforcement that responded to the school.”

The fate of her job has yet to be announced, but Casey said it is under authority of the Blount County Board of Education.

Williams’s guilty plea came less than a week since being charged with the crime. When asked why the process took such a short period of time, Casey said Williams wanted to take responsibility for her actions.

“Given the world that we live in, the thought of a person on any campus in this county with a gun sends chills up the spines of parents, school officials, and law enforcement,” Casey said.“Last week, multiple law enforcement officers were put in danger trying to get to Hayden Elementary School. What Ms. Williams did last week should have never happened.”