Manatee school district investigates charges against coach - WFLA News Channel 8

Manatee school district investigates charges against coach

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could not comment on the criminal case. He could not comment on the criminal case. He
MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

We're learning more about the charges four Manatee county school officials are facing.

It stems from a probe into former Manatee High School Assistant Football Coach Rod Frazier.

The State Attorney's office says there were allegations that he had inappropriate contact with female students.

Related story: 08/15/2013 Superintendent to discuss felony charges for school leaders

The four administrators face third degree felony charges, which carries a weight of up to five years in prison.

All four of these school administrators were involved in the investigation into these claims made against this football coach, and the state attorney says they failed to act.    

All were booked into the Manatee County jail.

Assistant football coach Rod Frazier stepped down last month, after spending months embroiled in investigations.

He currently faces seven misdemeanor charges of battery, for allegedly touching students and fellow teachers inappropriately.

And now, four school administrators are in the hot seat. They're all facing felony charges of failure to report child abuse.

Superintendent Rick Mills said, "As in the case of Mr. Frazier, the district clearly acknowledges that all these employees are innocent until proven guilty and we ask the public to join us in allowing the judicial process to proceed and to reserve judgment until all facts have been established and evaluated in the outcome."

Bob Gagnon, Greg Faller, and Matt Kane are all former administrators at Manatee High School, and Debra Horne previously worked in the district's Office of Professional Standards.

A Bradenton police report has claims from students and teachers that Frazier touched them and shared inappropriate text messages with students.

Investigators also found pornographic images on his work computer, including pictures of former students.

The police report also says Frazier was seen with a student sitting on his lap. In addition, there was a claim he shoved a water bottle between a girl's legs.

But the state attorney's office says the four administrators did not properly report the claims.

In fact, the police report says Horne was encouraged to quickly wrap up her investigation so that Frazier could attend a football game.

But Horne's attorney Peter Lombardo said his client did everything in her power to investigate.

Lombardo said, "She was not able to corroborate what the one girl had said, and that gave her a reason, gave her pause to believe that child was a victim of child abuse."

He said Horne was stunned after spending a short time in jail saying, "It's horrific. A horrific experience for anybody who's never been arrested, never been accused of anything in their life."

He adds, "All along she's always denied doing anything wrong. She's always followed the policy of the school board, she's followed the law, she's followed the legal advice that she received from the attorneys at the school board, completely consistent with what a reasonable person would do."

The school system is conducting an investigation of its own, apart from the criminal investigation.

Mills expects the investigation to wrap up by September.

Right now the four employees are on administrative leave, and if wrongdoing is found, the superintendent says action will be taken.

Mills said, "The standards of professional conduct set for employees of Manatee County School district are higher than the standards set by criminal law and all district employees are accountable to those standards."

But the big question here is why would Frazier face misdemeanors while the four administrators face felonies?

The State Attorney's office says ultimately this is a case where the cover up is worse than the crime.

Under the law, Frazier's alleged actions against the young women qualify as misdemeanors whereas the charge of failure to report child abuse is considered a felony.

Failure to report used to be a misdemeanor but that all changed after the Penn State University scandal.

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