Judge cuts bond for ex-Manatee High principal in Frazier case

jdeleon@bradenton.comSeptember 12, 2013 


Attorney Richard Reinhart, representing Robert Gagnon, makes a request for a bond reduction before Judge Thomas W. Krug at a hearing Wednesday at the Manatee County Courthouse. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald


MANATEE -- A Manatee County judge reduced bond Wednesday for a former Manatee High School principal charged with failing to report child abuse and giving false statements to police.

Robert Gagnon's attorney, Richard Reinhart, appeared before Manatee County Judge Thomas W. Krug on Wednesday morning. Gagnon, who was not in court Wednesday, was charged Aug. 15 with one felony and two misdemeanors after investigators alleged he did not properly report child abuse and then lied to Bradenton police investigating former Manatee High assistant football coach Rod Frazier.

Frazier has been charged with seven counts of misdemeanor battery and three counts of school interference, also misdemeanors, after investigators say he had improper contact with students and staff at Manatee High, where he also worked as a parent liaison. A hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to hear Frazier's motion to dismiss some of the charges and request more specific information on the charges.

Reinhart asked for the $2,500 Gagnon put up as bond be returned because he has strong ties to the community. Assistant State Attorney Dawn Buff agreed, saying she did not think Gagnon was a flight risk.

"I will order no contact with any material witnesses, including alleged victims," Krug said. "I will also order that cash bond must be returned."Buff emphasized there must be no contact between Gagnon and any victims and witnesses in the case.

"There have been a lot of allegations, and I'm not saying by Mr. Gagnon, but there have been a lot of allegations of people exerting pressure and force, not physically but verbally on the witnesses and some of the other teachers or some of the student that were victims in the Frazier case," Buff said.

"As an employee of the school board he is under paid suspension and one of the conditions is that he have no contact with any employees of the school board, which is teachers and that's who the witnesses are in this case," Reinhart said. "I don't think that is really an issue, so I had no problem saying a condition of this is no contact."

Buff said she had no objection to Gagnon speaking to co-defendants in order to prepare a defense. Krug ordered that exception be allowed.

The other three administrators charged in the case are former Manatee High assistant principals Gregg Faller and Matthew Kane and former school board investigator Debra Horne. The charges were filed against all four Aug. 15 by the State Attorney's Office following several months of investigation.

Gagnon, former assistant superintendent and principal of Manatee High School when Frazier worked there, turned himself to the Manatee County jail Aug. 16 after charges were filed against him. He was immediately released on bond.

The Bradenton Police Department initially began the investigation in February after receiving information Frazier had inappropriately touched students and staff and the Manatee County School Board failed to properly investigate or report it.

Gagnon has been on paid administrative leave since Aug. 5. Kane, Faller and Horne are suspended with pay as well. A fifth district official, staff attorney Scott Martin, was not charged but is also paid leave in connection to the Frazier case.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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