Trial of 3 ex-Manatee High administrators wraps up with mixed verdict. | News
Bradenton, Florida -- Two co-defendants, Matthew Kane and Gregg Faller, both former assistant principals at Manatee High School, faced the same charges but received different verdicts in a child abuse case.
"With regard to Mr. Kane, I say no more I find him not guilty," said Circuit Court Judge Peter Dubensky.
"I feel vindicated a bit I got my name back somewhat," Kane said.
But Dubensky found Faller guilty on one of two counts of failing to report a possible case of child abuse against former Manatee High School football coach Rod Frazier.
"Mr. Faller found himself in a position appears to have been the most advised about Frazier's activities," Dubensky said.
Faller would not speak to reporters after the trial, saying only, "I have no comment at this time. Thank you."
Former Manatee High Principal Bob Gagnon, who was acquitted a day earlier, was in court to show his support for the defendants.
The trial brought more than a dozen witnesses, including some student victims and staff. They talked about Frazier's improper behavior.
Student says coach grabbed her
This was the exchange between one of the students testifying and the assistant state attorney.
"Coach Frazier did he tell you, you were beautiful?"
"Would he compliment your butt?"
"At one point did he ask you to meet him at a hotel room?"
"He gave me a hug it felt inappropriate," another student testified.
School staff testified they communicated concerns to administrators but admitted they did not report the incidents to the state's child abuse hotline as required by law a point defense attorneys repeated in court.
"None of them felt it rose to the level they had to report the abuse," says Jon Weiffenbach, Faller's attorney, during closing arguments.
Kane says he was unfairly targeted. "They should have reported it, not passed the buck, given it to other people. They knew what they had to do, had the responsibility and they didn't do that."
The men's court battles continue as they continue to go through an administrative hearing process in an attempt to get their jobs back.
How much weight does the decision in criminal court have on that decision? Attorneys say it's two different set of standards. The men have not ruled out suing the school district.
Faller received no jail time and was ordered to pay court costs.
In April, Frazier pleaded guilty to four counts of battery and two counts of interfering with a student's attendance. He is serving six months house arrest and three years of probation.
In a statement today, Manatee School District's Superintendent Rick Mills said:
"The criminal trial that concluded today was the result of an investigation performed by the Bradenton Police Department and brought forward by the State Attorney's office. The school district takes no position regarding the findings rendered by the judge in those cases.
"The school district's investigation of Mr. Gagnon, Mr. Faller and Mr. Kane was based on allegations of employee misconduct which violated school district policies and procedures. There is no correlation between the disposition of the criminal cases and the district's internal investigation or the administrative hearings resulting from those findings."