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The weight of consequences

December 22, 2011
The Inter-Mountain

Sometimes doing the right thing comes with unforeseen consequences.

Such was the case with Barbour County school bus operator James Lawrence. He found a threatening note on his bus and turned it over to school administrators. He followed the proper procedures, according to testimony given by his superiors at his trial.

Lawrence did what he should have, but he ended up being arrested and indicted on accusations that he wrote the note. After a lengthy trial, a jury found him innocent on Dec. 7. He's back to work now, but that's after a year without a job or pay.

This week, another school bus operator, David Shelton, questioned the Barbour County Board of Education on what type of message it is sending to other employees who may be swayed in making a decision in a similar situation.

"If I would find a note on my bus, what would I choose to do? I know what I should do, but the actions you take send a big message to those doing their job," Shelton told board members.

The dilemma Shelton presents parallels many others in society. People often don't report crimes or provide police with information about suspicious activities because they fear retaliation from the accused or from authorities. The result could, and in many cases does, bring harm to others.

In considering what's honorable and the potential consequences, what would you do?



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