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News Section: Schools and Education



Four School District Employees Charged in Manatee High Sex Abuse Case

Published Friday, August 16, 2013 12:06 pm

Click here to read the Bradenton Police Department's Criminal Investigation report on the Frazier case. 

 

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Matt Kane's mugshot

Manatee Sheriff's Office

BRADENTON – Four Manatee County School District administrators were arrested Thursday on charges related to the Rod Frazier case. Frazier, who was arrested earlier this month after an investigation into allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with a student at Manatee High, was a parent liaison and football coach at the school. The administrators involved with investigating the allegations now face charges for failing to report them to state officials and giving false statements to law enforcement officers, while they were investigating the case. 

 

Robert Gagnon, a former Principal at Manatee High who was later promoted to assistant superintendent, and Matt Kane, a former assistant principal at Manatee who was transferred to Southeast High, were arrested Thursday and face charges related to their roles in failing to report allegations made against Frazier at the school level.

 

Debra Horne, an assistant principal at Prine Elementary who had served as the district's internal investigator when the allegations were made, was also charged in connection with their role in failing to report the allegations once they were escalated. On Friday, the Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of Gregg Faller, another assistant superintendent who had been at Manatee before being moved to Palmetto High. 

 

Florida law requires any school employee who suspects, witnesses or is told about alleged abuse of a student to report it to a hotline monitored by the Department of Child Services within 24 hours. Frazier had been investigated internally in November of 2012 because of multiple complaints by teachers and other personnel who felt he was "too close" with female students who he routinely called from class and would visit with alone in his office, behind closed doors and had been seen hugging in the school courtyard. He was suspended for one day, while the school claimed it had conducted an internal investigation, before being reinstated in time for the football team's first playoff game.

 

In January, a former student wrote a letter that was delivered to Manatee High administrators, which alleged that she had been fondled on multiple occasions by Frazier, who she also claimed would text her regularly, telling her he loved her and asking that she send him explicit photos. The student claimed he then began treating her badly when she refused his advances, eventually transferring schools because of the discomfort.

 

clientuploads/Law enforcement/HorneMug.jpg

Debra Horne's mugshot

Manatee Sherrif's Office

The district said it launched another internal investigation. However, once again, none of the parties involved escalated the allegations to the DCF as required by state law. Local and state authorities only became aware of the allegations when a media report leaked the girl's letter. The Bradenton Police Department then launched a criminal investigation, recommending the arrests of Frazier and the four administrators to the state attorney's office.

 

Frazier resigned from his position when he was charged. The district began a new investigation under newly-hired internal investigator Troy Pumphrey. Gagnon and Martin were the first to be placed on leave by the district, followed shortly by Horne. Kane and Faller were placed on leave Thursday. Martin has yet to be chargd.

 

Manatee Superintendent Rick Mills, who was hired by the board after the incident and initial internal investigation had been completed, stressed at a press conference Friday that the district's investigation was separate from that of the state's attorney. "Those involved will be investigated and held in accordance with the district's policies and standards, which are higher than that of the criminal investigation," said Mills. The superintendent acknowledged that with classes resuming Monday, the district would need to make several personnel adjustments. Mills then read the following statement: 

 

“I was informed yesterday by the State Attorney’s Office that charges have been filed against four employees of the Manatee County School District in connection with the the Rod Frazier case at Manatee High School. Those employees are Assistant Superintendent Bob Gagnon, Prine Elementary Assistant Principal Debra Horne, Palmetto High Assistant Principal Gregg Faller and Southeast High Assistant Principal Matt Kane. As you know, Mr. Frazier was charged last month with misdemeanors involving district students and staff and resigned from his position as a parent liaison on July 26, 2013.

 

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Gregg Faller's Mugshout

Manatee Sherrif's Office

Any charge involving an employee of the school district is a cause for great concern. When the charges include failure to report suspected abuse or giving false information to law enforcement, they are especially troubling and go directly to the primary responsibility of this school district – ensuring the safety and security of students and employees.

 

The school district’s internal investigation of this case will continue and is being conducted by Troy Pumphrey, Investigator in the school district’s Office of Professional Standards. Each of the employees charged yesterday have been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with school district procedures which are outlined in an attachment given to you this morning. The standards of professional conduct set for employees of the Manatee County School District are higher than the standards set by criminal law and all of the district’s employees are accountable to those standards. It should also be noted that our internal investigation is entirely independent of the criminal charges and the outcome of the district investigation is not dependent on the final outcome of the criminal matter.

 

If the Manatee District’s investigation warrants discipline of any of these employees, I will make an appropriate recommendation to the School Board of Manatee County, and if warranted, the employee or employees will be suspended without pay pending a hearing, if one is requested.

 

As in the case of Mr. Frazier, the district clearly acknowledges that all of 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 of the facts have been established and evaluated.

 

As always, the safety, security and well being of all of our students and employees is ultimately of paramount interest to me and to this school district.”

 

Correction: Attorney Scott Martin was orginally listed among the administrators charged by the state attorney's office. Martin has not been charged as of this time.

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