Wethersfield Principal Followed Children at Wal-Mart, Took Photos: Police

A Wethersfield elementary school principal was placed on leave Monday after he was arrested over the weekend, accused of following young girls around a Hartford Wal-Mart and sneaking photos of them on a phone that belongs to the school district.

Police arrested John Bean, the 46-year-old principal of Highcrest Elementary School, on Saturday and Supt. Michael Emmett said he has been placed on administrative leave during the ongoing investigation. 

Police responded to the Wal-Mart on Flatbush Avenue just after 1 p.m. on Saturday and store staff members said Bean was following children in the store and “attempting to surreptitiously photograph them,” especially when they were not with their parents, the incident report says. 

One witness said the children were girls between 6 and 8 years old and Wal-Mart staff members said Bean, who has three children of his own, was holding a small toy and using it to hide his iPhone. 

The police officer who responded to the scene asked Bean what he was doing and he responded that he was shopping, but he did not have a shopping cart, according to police.

When the officer asked Bean if he’d been taking photos and following children, Bean diverted his eyes, tried to walk away as police said they were detaining him and he tried to resist arrest, according to the incident report.

The report says Bean never asked what was happening, but asked if he was under arrest and said he did not do anything. 

During questioning, police asked Bean to unlock his phone so they could clear things up, but Bean refused, according to police. Authorities seized the SIM card and send the phone to a lab to check what's on it.

Police also reviewed surveillance from the store and said it appeared Bean was looking more at the aisles and people than the store merchandise.

The principal was charged with interfering with an officer for resisting arrest and second-degree breach of peace, according to police. 

Police said they immediately notified the Wethersfield Police Chief, as well as security for the Wethersfield Board of Education when they started to investigate and the board of education took immediate action.

"I placed John Bean on administrative leave, effective September 26, 2016," Emmett said of the arrest. "It would not be appropriate for me to comment regarding the circumstances leading to Mr. Bean’s arrest, as the matter remains under investigation."

Hartford police also said they notified the state Department of Children and Families as a precaution.

Bean was released on a $10,000 bond and was due in court today, but Bean's attorney said he has health issues and was at a locat facility and unable to appear.

Bean is expected in court in mid-October.

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