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News Section: Schools and Education

Middle School Teacher Accused of Touching Students

Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 4:00 pm

BRADENTON – The Bradenton Police Department has opened an investigation into Manatee County middle school students' accusations that they were fondled by a gym teacher at the school. The district says that once the BPD's criminal investigation has concluded, their Office of Professional Standards will conduct a full administrative investigation to determine whether school board and/or department of education policies have been violated. The teacher has been temporarily reassigned, pending the outcome.

MCSD Director of Communications and Family/Community Engagement Steve Valley released the following statement:

"Detectives were advised at 1617 hrs, that female students at Sugg Middle School have made accusations that the physical education coach has inappropriately touch their breast. S.R.O Bench advised that Sugg Middle School administration were told of these allegations earlier in the day and started their owner investigation without consulting L.E.O, they have already made contact with school board officials and interviewed the reports persons. Detectives are currently attempting to locate the reporting parties (victims) for interview purposes, those interviews will determine if detectives continue the investigation tonight or pick it up again first thing in the A.M."

Valley also released a timeline of events:

•      The incident allegedly occurred during 3rd period - 11:02 - 11:48

•      During the 8th grade lunch period (12:40 - 1:12), a female student approached a Sugg Middle School Assistant Principal (AP) in the cafeteria and stated that she had been touched on the chest area by a coach.
•      The AP stopped the conversation in the cafeteria and asked her to come to the office to report the situation.
•     Student A and her friend reported that she had a breast cancer shirt on and that the coach asked what it said and when looking at her "swiped" his hand on her chest.
•     The other student said she was there too.
•     The AP asked both students to write their statements (5th period -  at approximately 1:30 p.m.) The statements were inconsistent from what they had told the AP.
•     The AP brought the statements to the Sugg Middle School principal Sharon Scarbrough who in turn contacted Executive Director of Middle Schools Cynthia Saunders at approximately 1:45 p.m. Ms. Saunders advised Principal Saunders to talk with the teacher and then call her back.
•     The principal called both PE coaches to her office at the beginning of 6th period individually 2:00 p.m. and asked each about what happened with the student wearing a breast cancer shirt. The teachers stated what happened and wrote a statement.
•     At about 2:30 p.m. the principal then called two random students from the combined class that the accusers were in and asked if they saw anything different or peculiar happen in their class. Neither student had any idea what the principal was asking and just stated they were in a combined group to run the mile today.
•     At approximately 2:50 p.m.. principal Scarbrough phoned back Ms. Saunders, who advised her to call CPS and also to send the written statements to her for HR and also to phone parents of the alleged victims.
•     Assistant Principal, Mr. Baietto, called CPS. The School Resource Officer (Officer Bench) was in the same room and heard Mr. Baietto report the incident to CPS at 3:00 p.m.. The call was received by  Sheneka, Badge # 2068, who accepted the report for CPS.

The district says the teacher has been reassigned from his teaching duties to another district department pending the outcome of the criminal and/or administrative investigations.


Editor's note: the revised timeline below was released by the district late Wednesday afternoon:


The following revised timeline of events concerning yesterday’s accusations of alleged inappropriate touching of students by a Sugg Middle School teacher is being released by Superintendent Rick W. Mills.

  • Alleged incidents took place between 11:02 a.m. – 11:48 a.m.

  • The students notified a Sugg Middle School assistant principal of the allegations during lunch between 12:40 p.m. - 1:12 p.m.

  • Victim statements are taken in order to officially report an incident to CPS.

  • The School Resource Officer was attending an off campus meeting at the time the students reported the incident and did not return to the school until shortly before 3:00 p.m.

  • The teacher has been reassigned from his teaching duties to another non-student contact position in the district.


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