Charges related to alleged abuse of adopted children dropped against ex-Star principal

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After three-and-a-half years, the felony charges accusing a former middle school principal in Star, Idaho, of abusing his adopted children have been dismissed.

Tony Nelson, who worked for the West Ada School District for roughly 27 years, was charged with two counts of felony injury to a child in May 2019 alongside his then-wife, Pamela Nelson. Those charges have been dismissed with prejudice, according to an order to dismiss filed by a Canyon County prosecutor. A dismissal with prejudice means that prosecutors cannot refile charges in the case.

“The state has now acknowledged Tony and his wife Pam faced a very difficult and complicated situation involving two children the couple adopted from Bulgaria and, based on what is now known, dismissal was warranted,” Tony’s attorney Michael Bartlett said in an emailed statement. The Idaho Statesman reached out to Bartlett for additional information.

Pamela Nelson was accused of withholding food from their two adopted children, striking the youngest child with a spoon, and locking the oldest child in a room for a long period of time. The alleged crimes occurred over a three-year span starting in January 2016, according to the Nelsons’ initial indictments, when the children were 7 and 10.

Tony was accused of allowing the children to become “malnourished” by allegedly letting his wife withhold their food. He was also accused of allowing Pamela Nelson to strike and isolate the children.

The three felony charges against Pamela were dismissed. Instead, she was charged with a single misdemeanor disturbing the peace charge, according to a plea agreement reviewed by the Statesman.

Pamela Nelson “did willfully and maliciously disturb the peace and quiet of a person ... by tumultuous conduct” in January 2019, according to an amended indictment filed by a Canyon County prosecutor Monday.

Pamela Nelson is expected to be given a withheld judgment regarding the misdemeanor and placed on unsupervised probation for six months, the plea agreement showed. She is not expected to pay a fine but will pay her court costs.

The case will be sealed at the time of sentencing, an additional term of the plea deal. Pamela Nelson’s attorney Krista Lynn Howard declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Pamela’s sentencing has been scheduled for 10 a.m. on Feb. 9, online court records showed.

The Statesman has reached out to Canyon County spokesperson Joe Decker for additional information.