Tribune-Courier General Manager
Marshall County School Superintendent Trent Lovett has named Kem Cothran as interim principal at South Marshall Middle School for the remainder of the school year. Cothran has been serving as secondary supervisor at the school board office. She previously served as principal at Benton Middle School. Lovett has also confirmed that Kent Barlow has been suspended, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. He said he expects the investigation to move swiftly.
BENTON – South Marshall Middle School principal Kent Barlow entered a not-guilty plea in Marshall County District Court yesterday to multiple charges stemming from an alleged rape and assault on a woman at his residence at 853 Soldier Creek Road early Sunday morning.
Kentucky State Police arrested the 46-year-old Barlow after an investigation revealed evidence linking him to the assault. State Police investigators spent much of Sunday morning and afternoon interviewing the alleged victim which led to the execution of a search warrant at Barlow’s residence.
According to the arrest warrant, a 46-year old female said she went to Barlow’s residence to visit on Saturday night. While there, Barlow allegedly became angry and retrieved two pistols and began to threaten both his life and hers. The warrant states Barlow fired four rounds from the pistol into the bed on which the victim was sitting. He is also alleged to have struck the victim with a closed fist and slammed her head against a wall.
The victim told investigators she agreed to have sex with Barlow because she feared for her life as the situation continued to escalate. She told police that at one point she escaped Barlow’s home but was chased down in his front yard and dragged back inside by her hair. She said she was finally able to escape the home early on Sunday morning after Barlow fell asleep.
Barlow was taken into custody at the office of his attorney, Mark Bryant, in Paducah just after 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. He was charged with rape 1st degree, assault 4th degree, wanton endangerment 1st degree, terroristic threatening 1st degree, and unlawful imprisonment 1st degree. He was lodged in the Marshall County Detention Center, where he is being held on a $100,000 cash bond.
Marshall County Schools superintendent Trent Lovett spent the day at South Marshall Middle School on Monday, meeting with teachers and students to reassure them the Board would not leave them without leadership.
“I felt someone needed to be at the school Monday morning to talk to parents if they had questions and to meet with the staff and students and decided who better to do that than me,” said Lovett.
Lovett said the school system will be filing a report in the coming days with the Professional Standards Board, a requirement whenever an educator is charged with a felony.
He went on to say the school system is currently exploring their legal options and he is hopeful to have appointed an interim principal possibly as soon as today for as long as is necessary.
Barlow has been employed by the Marshall County School System since 1999, having served also as an assistant principal at Marshall County High School and as principal at North Marshall Middle School.
In 2007, a jury found Barlow not guilty of charges he molested a 5-year old child in a widely publicized trial.
A preliminary hearing has been set for March 21 at 1 p.m. in Marshall District Court.