Trial begins for Manatee school officials accused of not reporti - WFLA News Channel 8

Trial begins for Manatee school officials accused of not reporting child abuse

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The trial began Monday for former principal Robert Gagnon and former vice principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane. The trial began Monday for former principal Robert Gagnon and former vice principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane.
The trial began Monday for former principal Robert Gagnon and former vice principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane. The trial began Monday for former principal Robert Gagnon and former vice principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane.
MANATEE COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Testimony began Monday in the trial of three former Manatee County School administrators who are accused of failing to report child abuse in connection with a case against a former football coach.

Former Manatee High School assistant football coach Rod Frazier pleaded no contest to numerous battery charges in April after an investigation into claims he touched students and a teacher inappropriately from 2006 to 2012.

Prosecutors now say that former principal Robert Gagnon and former vice principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane were aware of the claims, but failed to notify state authorities. They face felony charges of failure to report child abuse.

"You cannot willfully fail to report something that you do not believe existed," said Kane’s attorney Brett McIntosh during the trial on Monday.

The state called numerous witnesses to the stand, including a teacher who said Frazier called her classroom to speak with a student.

"I [asked the student] why did he call you? And she goes, ‘he wanted to know if I got my period yet,' " said former teacher Lynn Aragon.

Aragon said she notified school officials. However, defense Attorney Richard Reinhart tried to discredit her.

"You are aware that if you have reasonable cause to believe that a student is having sexual relationships with a teacher or any other adult, that you have a duty under Florida law to report that to the Florida abuse hotline correct?" asked Reinhart.

"Yes,” Aragon responded.

"You did not call the Florida abuse hotline!” Reinhart replied.

Other teachers and a student testified that they tried to tell the school administrators about Frazier.

The defense claims the administrators did all they could to investigate these claims, and they did not feel there was enough evidence to report suspected child abuse.

“The credibility of the disclosures is so suspect that no reasonable fact finder and decision maker would ever find these people credible to the point that you could be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Gagnon indeed had the information required under the statute and still failed to act,” Reinhart explained to the judge.

If convicted, the men could face up to five years in prison.

The trial is expected to last until the end of the week.

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