News Section: Schools and Education
Bradenton Police Investigate Manatee High Employee
School District failed to report abuse allegations
BRADENTON – The Bradenton Police Department is investigating charges of inappropriate contact between a Manatee High School assistant football coach and a female student, as well as why the school district failed to report the initial allegations, as required by state law. In a letter she hand delivered to the school's principal in early January, the student alleged that Rod Frazier had fondled her on multiple occasions, in addition to sending hundreds of text messages and requesting that she send him nude images of herself.
Florida law requires school staff and administration to report any such allegations to a state abuse hotline monitored by the Department of Children and Families. Failure to do so is a third-degree felony, which can be punished by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The Sarasota Herald Tribune first reported the story last Thursday, including the letter, which was submitted by a student who said she had attended Manatee High her sophomore and junior year because of their medical program, but asked to transfer back to her original high school after Frazier's behavior had made her uncomfortable. The student said that she had first met Frazier after she had been given a referral for not having her I.D. at lunch.
Frazier, who played football for the University of Florida and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers before an injury ended his career, is the younger brother of former University of Nebraska football star Tommy Frazier. He coaches running backs for the Hurricanes' highly-successful football program and is also employed at the school as a "parent liaison."
In her letter, the student goes on to describe a relationship in which she said Frazier showed her preferential treatment by getting her out of class to allow her to spend time in his office, and letting her leave campus for lunch. She said that Frazier began texting her, though she never gave him her phone number, and at one point asked her to send him a nude picture of herself. The student claimed that while she did not oblige, another female student had shown her a naked picture that she claimed to have sent to Frazier after a similar request.
The student said that eventually Frazier asked her to meet him at Sutton Park, where he asked for a hug, before reaching over and picking her up by her buttocks. She claimed that Frazier then became more aggressive in their relationship, routinely fondling her in his office and sending her suggestive text messages. The student said she stopped returning texts or meeting him at that point, but claimed Frazier began treating her punitively as a result.
Rather than reporting the letter to the state hotline and the local authorities, the district says it handled the matter internally. Frazier had been previously investigated in November over what the district termed rumors of inappropriate relationships with students. He was placed on administrative leave while the district investigated him internally, but was reinstated the next day and allowed to coach the football team's playoff game against St. Petersburg Northeast that night.
Neither the Bradenton Police Department or the Department of Children and Families were made aware of any allegations until the letter went public last Thursday. On Friday, the Manatee School District again placed Frazier on paid administrative leave.