Judge grants former Manatee High coach eight separate trials

jdeleon@bradenton.comNovember 27, 2013 

MANATEE -- A judge Tuesday granted Roderick Frazier eight separate trials on misdemeanor charges that he inappropriately touched students and staff at Manatee High School.

Frazier is charged with 10 misdemeanors: seven counts of battery against students, faculty or staff and three counts of interfering with school attendance.

Manatee County Judge Doug Henderson ruled prosecutors had improperly linked the battery charges. He also ruled battery and interference counts involving the same victim should be linked.

"The facts in the case mirror exactly what the Florida Supreme Court warns against in stating: 'The rules do not warrant joinder or consolidation of criminal charges based on similar but separate episodes, separate in time, which are connected only by similar circumstance and the accused's alleged guilt in both or all instance,' " Henderson wrote. "Further, the offenses are similar in that the defendant is accused of inappropriately touching students and teachers, but they are separate episodes and the specific types of abuse vary greatly between grabbing and slapping buttocks to sitting on his lap to tapping the victim's chest/breast area to touching with his foot to long hugs and back rubs."

Frazier attorney Edwin Mulock had asked the court to sever the charges against Frazier during a Nov. 15 hearing.

"He wrote a very good opinion that is well supported by the law and the facts," Mulock said. "It will ensure a fair trial."

Mulock said the issues vary from accuser to accuser.

"A lot of the victims have credibility issues such as prior inconsistent statements and prior drug use," Mulock said. "Credibility is going to be very important because this is all a 'he said, she said.' "

Mulock said he hopes severing the cases will enable him to properly defend Frazier against each of the allegations.

"They will have to all rise and fall on their own facts. What is the real motivation?" Mulock said. "Those are the real issues: creditability and motivation."

The next hearing is set for Dec. 13, in which Mulock will present motions to disclose impeaching information, the government's intention to use certain evidence and to suppress evidence.

Frazier resigned from his position at Manatee High School after the charges were filed against him. The Bradenton Police Department began investigating the allegations in February after learning the district improperly handled its own investigation.

Four school district officials, including former Manatee High Principal Robert Gagnon, former assistant principals Matthew Kane and Gregg Faller and former district investigator Debra Horne, are facing felony charges they did not report suspicions of child abuse to the state abuse hotline.

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

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