By JEROD CLAPP
A Louisville teacher who lives in Jeffersonville has two pending criminal charges for animal neglect and drug-related crimes.
Jennifer Kemp, 48, a teacher at Moore Traditional School, faces a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and a felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance.
The charges could affect her job. Ben Jackey, public relations specialist with Jefferson County Public Schools, said Kemp has been put on noninstructional duty pending the outcome of her trial.
The district’s board policy allows for disciplinary action up to termination is an employee is convicted of a felony charge.
Kemp has only one disciplinary action recorded with JCPS for hitting a student in the chest with her hand in 2010, though it was noted in the report that she was trying to turn off the projector and the student was blocking her access.
Kemp’s animal cruelty charge was filed Dec. 26 after her dog was found loose and in poor health near the Youngstown Shopping Center and picked up by Jeffersonville Animal Control on Nov. 29 and taken to the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter.
The narrative with the citation says the dog, Athena, had fleas and fur missing on most of its hindquarters. Tom Lowe, Jeffersonville corporation attorney, said the dog had hookworm and was treated at the Allison Lane Animal Hospital and given medication, but died in the shelter Dec. 19.
Jeremy Mull, Clark County chief deputy prosecutor, said though the county is awaiting results from a necropsy on the dog, he doesn’t think its death will change the charges.
“I don’t think the fact that the animal is no longer alive will enhance the charge,” Mull said, “but we have enough evidence on that charge to obtain a conviction on that count.”
The citation’s narrative said after picking up the dog, animal control went to Kemp’s house to confirm the dog belonged to her. Kemp’s son, Andrew, who answered the door, said he’d just let the dogs out and acknowledged the dog as his.
Lowe said animal control was familiar with Kemp’s dogs.
“This is not the first time the dog had been picked up running at large; they had problems with other dogs there is my understanding,” Lowe said.
Mull said animal crimes are taken very seriously in Clark County.
“We work very hard to get justice for victims in crimes,” Mull said. “And by the same token, when animals are mistreated, we step in and aggressively try to make sure there are serious consequences for those crimes.”
Animal cruelty is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $5,000.
Kemp also has a pending felony charge of maintaining a common nuisance — controlling a location where people are using or keeping drugs — from Oct. 26.
According to a probable-cause affidavit, Jeffersonville Police Department officers were called to the home of one of Kemp’s neighbors, who reported gunshots coming from the direction of Kemp’s house Oct. 19. After arriving at Kemp’s home, police found expended shotgun shells and called for more officers.
After failed attempts to reach someone at the home by phone, police used a PA system on a patrol vehicle to make contact. Jennifer Kemp’s adult son, Dylan, came outside and said he’d been firing his new shotgun.
Upon entering the home, Jennifer Kemp was found asleep.
Police found more ammunition and a cigarette box with six-and-a-half 2-miligram tabs of alprazolam, also known as Xanax.
Dylan Kemp was arrested for criminal recklessness with a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. Four other minors inside the residence who had been drinking also were arrested.
The officer’s narrative of the Oct. 19 incident says he had previously been to the home a number of times before and spoken to Kemp about her sons and their friends engaging in underage drinking and use of illegal drugs. The narrative also notes that Jennifer Kemp’s three sons had been arrested before for possession of narcotics and fighting.
Mull said though Jennifer Kemp’s children were involved in the crimes, she had provided a place for them to engage in illegal activity.
“The law puts the responsibility on you when you’re a homeowner to control the acts going on there,” Mull said. “If you’re allowing illegal drug use or underage drinking, you will be held accountable for that.”
Maintaining a common nuisance is a class D felony, punishable from six to three years in prison.
A call to the attorney listed for Jennifer Kemp in court records, Eric J. Weitzel, was not returned by press time.