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School officials charged with not reporting alleged child abuse

A former assistant superintendent who was also a principal in Florida is facing criminal charges concerning the alleged failure to report child abuse and the providing of false information to law enforcement officials. As a hearing concerning these matters has been set for April 10, his attorney has filed a motion to have both counts dismissed.

Three faculty members at Manatee High School are said to have reported concerns about an assistant football coach to the principal. The former football coach is now facing seven charges of misdemeanor battery concerning the supposed inappropriate touching of students and other staff members. However, the coach has not been charged with either child abuse or child sexual abuse.

The time line concerning the purported failure to report abuse dealt with the periods between January 2011 and September 2012, and between October 2012 through February 2013. The superintendent's attorney takes particular issue with his client being charged prior to charging the individual supposedly engaged in the abuse.

His attorney also feels that any reports made to the principal were second-hand information. "I think it's clearly stated that the best information the state has is three people reporting what other people told them," the attorney stated. The attorney also disagrees with any conclusion that false reporting occurred. The attorney stated that it is not false reporting simply because one individual's memory of particular circumstances differs for someone else's memory.

The above circumstance demonstrates why anyone charged with a crime of this nature need to have at their disposal a capable criminal defense attorney. The principal and two assistant principals all face felonies concerning the claimed failure to report abuse, and all have lost their jobs. The consequences are too severe not to have aggressive representation on one's side. We cannot allow for individuals to be convicted based upon unreliable evidence.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Gagnon's attorney files motions to dismiss charges in Frazier investigation," Erica Earl, Feb. 11, 2014

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