MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Today was the second day of the trial of three former Manatee High School administrators accused of failing to report child abuse. Robert Gagnon, Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane are charged with failure to report child abuse in connection with the Rod Frazier case.
The prosecution wrapped up its case today, and the defense was set to start calling their witnesses this afternoon. Before beginning the defense portion of the trial, Robert Gagnon's attorney Richard Reinhart made a motion to dismiss the charges against his client.
And in a courtroom surprise, the judge agreed.
"With respect to Mr. Gagnon, I’m going to go ahead and grant the motion for a judgement of acquittal," said Judge Peter Dubensky, responding to a motion to dismiss filed by Richard Reinhart, the attorney for Robert Gagnon.
Gagnon was a former assistant superintendent for the Manatee County school district, though he was serving as principal of Manatee High at the time that the inappropriate behavior by Rod Frazier was occurring.
During day two of trial, the prosecution called several witnesses who testified they saw and reported inappropriate behavior between Frazier and students, and that those reports were never acted upon.
"On different occasion, things in the school that just didn’t seem appropriate that were going on for so long," says Steve Gulash, one of the key witnesses to take the stand. Gulash and Frazier worked together as parent liaisons and assistant coaches at Manatee High. Gulash says he heard about and saw several inappropriate actions by Frazier, including his testimony that he saw Frazier shove a water bottle into the crotch of a student from behind.
But during cross examination, Gulash admitted to not disclosing that information to Debra Horn, the investigator who looked into the Frazier case. Reinhart was direct in his questioning. “So in your testimony, you are saying that you lied to Ms. Horn?” he asked.
“Yes, sir,” Gulash replied.
And while Gulash admits he failed to tell Horn about the bottle incident, he says he did inform Bradenton police investigators what happened. But Gulash was just one of four witness called, and other teachers also testified about allegations against Frazier. But in the end, the judge ruled there wasn't enough to information to proceed with the felony charges against Robert Gagnon.
The trial -- now only involving Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane -- continues tomorrow.