Helix asst. principal says he was only trying to help student - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Helix asst. principal says he was only trying to help student

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For the first time, we're hearing from a Helix High School assistant principal accused of helping a 16-year-old student run away. Through his attorney, the principal says he was only trying to help a child abandoned by her mother.

"This is really a classic example of no good deed goes unpunished," Josh Stepner's attorney Mark-Robert Bluemel said.

Bluemel is getting ready to go to court to defend Stepner against a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Stepner is accused of helping a 16-year-old student run away to Oregon.

"This man is innocent and he has the right to prove that. Unfortunately, what has happened prior - and that's why I'm talking to you - is he was painted out as being guilty," Bluemel said.

Stepner is not accused of having a sexual relationship with the student, as was initially reported by News 8 and other media outlets.  Those reports were based on inaccurate information given to the media on October 5th, and were corrected by News 8 twelve hours later.

As it turns out, Stepner is accused of helping the girl purchase a bus ticket to Oregon and driving her to the bus station.

"My client brought her to safety, so to speak. She's now back in Oregon with a family and going to school," Bluemel said.

Court records show the girl had recently taken out a restraining order against her mother, and the judge revoked the mother's custodial rights. Bluemel says the girl in effect had no guardian and no home to run away from.

"He was assisting a student in need without a guardian and helping her get home, and I think he's been made a scapegoat," Bluemel said.

Since 2006, four teachers have been convicted of sex crimes involving Helix High students.

Bluemel says his client, a married father of three, simply got caught up in that firestorm.

"The evidence will show that there was no inappropriate conduct. He was acting in furtherance of the child's best interests in getting her to a safe harbor, back home to Oregon," Bluemel said.

The girl's father is dead and her grandmother lives in Oregon.

Stepner is facing one misdemeanor count. His attorney will enter a plea in El Cajon court by Nov. 5.

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