'Nothing criminal' so far in Manatee coach investigation, says school district

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 12, 2013 

MANATEE -- Interviews with the family of the student who made allegations of misconduct on the part of a Manatee High School assistant football coach have turned up nothing criminal so far, but the investigation is still on going, a school district attorney said Monday.

John Bowen said Monday that a team from the School District of Manatee's Office of Professional Standards has not uncovered anything criminal related to allegations against Manatee High School assistant coach Rod Frazier, who on Friday was suspended with pay by Interim Superintendent David Gayler.

The school district is conducting a separate investigation along with the Bradenton Police Department after allegations of improper conduct were leveled at Frazier by a student.

Bowen also stressed Monday that violation of district policies is a separate issue that the team will consider.

Bowen stated that he is not taking anything away from the police investigation, just offering his own legal opinion based on what he has heard and read so far from the Office of Professional Standards.

He is also defending the school district's decision not

to call the police on the matter -- a decision that, if the allegations do prove to be criminal, will be criticized by Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski.

"At the present time we know of nothing pertaining to criminal activity that should have been reported in this case," Bowen said from his office late Monday afternoon.

Bowen said his opinion takes into consideration both a letter that the student wrote to the district and the result of interviews.

"There were no allegations of illegal activity," Bowen said. 'Not all inappropriate conduct is criminal."

Bowen also Monday shed some light on the allegations, saying that they began when a school district employee wrote a document raising concerns about Frazier and gave it to the Manatee High principal.

"This document from another employee was not based on first-hand knowledge," Bowen said. "The document contained things the employee had heard from others but had not seen.

"The principal followed the chain of command and gave the document to his director (of secondary education) who referred it to the Office of Professional Standards," Bowen added.

The district then began an investigation last November. Frazier was suspended in November but was reinstated after one day.

"We determined we were only dealing with rumors," Bowen said. "We couldn't find any basis for action by the district. We had no letter. We had no name."

But following Christmas break, the district had received a letter from the student containing allegations. That letter prompted the further investigation, Bowen said.

Meanwhile, in the parallel police investigation, a prosecutor with the state attorney's office officially began working Monday to investigate the allegations against Frazier.

A prosecutor who handles crimes against children is already requesting information from his detectives, Radzilowski said.

"We are gathering information for her," Radzilowski said. "All the information will be given to the prosecutor and then she will decide whether they have a case or not."

Radzilowski said he is not going to talk about the case itself as yet.

"I am not going to comment on what we know, who we interviewed or who knows what," Radzilowski said. "I do know we will do a complete and thorough investigation and let the chips fall where they may."

Manatee High is in the Bradenton Police Department's jurisdiction, and two school resource officers are based on campus. But the police department was never informed by the district that Frazier was under scrutiny.

Radzilowski first heard about it through news reports.

When asked Monday whether the district has any culpability in the case since it didn't inform the Bradenton Police Department about the allegations, Radzilowski said he will wait for the investigation to be completed before addressing that issue.

Radzilowski also said Monday that he is well aware a person's reputation is at stake.

"There may be innocent parties here so we are trying to be very, very careful," Radzilowski said. "We have no time line. We will talk to everyone. I would say a decision is not coming anytime soon because we have a lot of work to do."

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686 or tweet @RichardDymond.

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