A Pahrump elementary school principal and special education teacher were bailed out of jail earlier this week in a case involving allegations of abuse against disabled students at the school.
Floyd Elementary Principal Holly Lepisto, 53, and teacher Sarah Hopkins, 52, were among four women arrested Tuesday by Nye County sheriff's deputies on charges of child abuse and conspiracy to commit a crime. Special education aides Kathryn Cummings, 56, and Phyllis DuShane, 73, were arrested on the same charges.
DuShane was released Tuesday for medical reasons. Cummings remained jailed Friday.
Justice of the Peace Tina Brisebill on Wednesday raised the women's bail amounts from $35,000 to $100,000.
Attempts to reach Lepisto, Hopkins and DuShane for comment were unsuccessful.
The school district suspended the four pending the outcome of an internal investigation. A fifth, as-yet unidentified employee was also suspended.
Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi said criminal complaints against the four probably will be filed Monday, possibly detailing for the first time what prompted the arrests. Authorities have said only that the allegations of abuse were physical but not sexual in nature and were not severe enough to require hospitalization.
Sheriff's Capt. Bill Becht, who oversees all criminal investigations in Nye County, said he was "disgusted" when he was made aware of the evidence uncovered in the case.
"The victims, the whole circumstances just disgusted me,'' he said. "It's a violation of public trust."
Ed Lepisto, the principal's husband, said Wednesday's bail increase only added to the shock of the past 24 hours.
"We're all in shock," he said. "The community is in shock. Police officers who were at the scene were in shock."
According to a sheriff's office news release, Holly Lepisto was arrested on allegations of conducting "an extremely poor investigation" of a complaint about the manner in which Hopkins punished a student.
Sources at the school confirmed that Lepisto told Hopkins not to punish a student in a way that might look abusive to some.
According to police, Lepisto was required by law to notify law enforcement and Division of Child and Family Services officials about suspected abuse, and did not.
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said at least four students were abused by the instructors.
DuShane, Cummings and Hopkins were arrested at their homes. Lepisto was arrested on school grounds, in front of students.
DeMeo said the arrests were appropriate.
"These allegations are crimes committed against people who could not defend themselves. There's a lot more to it," he said. "There is validation in this investigation to the allegations."
The investigation, which was launched a few days ago, started when "someone who told someone, who told someone, who told a police officer," the sheriff said. After that, "it unraveled."
Holly Lepisto's husband said the real abuse in his wife's case occurred when the detective arrived at Floyd Elementary School. He was present when she was led away.
"This is a witch hunt. I went up there. I said 'Honey, what's wrong?' and she said, 'They don't believe me,' " he said. "They hammered her. What's that all about? That's abuse.
"And it's done by our sheriff's department."
The principal's own education focused on special education, he said. She was a longtime educator in Ohio before moving to Pahrump four years ago, according to the school district's website.