Gagnon's attorney files motions to dimiss charges in Frazier investigation

eearl@bradenton.comFebruary 11, 2014 

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Manatee Schools Assistant Superintendent Bob Gagnon, at right, attends Monday night's school board meeting. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

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MANATEE -- Attorney Richard Reinhart filed three motions Monday to dismiss criminal charges against Bob Gagnon, one of five former Manatee County School District staff members facing charges in the Rod Frazier case.

Gagnon, former assistant superintendent on special assignment for the Manatee County School District and a former principal of Manatee High School, faces two counts of failure to report child abuse and one count of providing false information to law enforcement.

Reinhart filed Monday to dismiss the charges of failure to report suspected child abuse. Reinhart asserts Gagnon had no reason to suspect child abuse, nor was it his duty to report it. A hearing for Gagnon has been set for April 10.

According to the state, three faculty members reported concerns about Frazi

er's behavior to Gagnon.

Reinhart's motion to dismiss says it is unclear when the reports were made. The motion reads: "Viewed together, this information does not amount to reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or suspected child abuse."

Frazier, former assistant football coach and parent liaison at Manatee High School, faces seven charges of misdemeanor battery alleging he inappropriately touched students and other staff members at Manatee High, as well as three misdemeanor counts of school interference. Frazier, has not been charged with child abuse or child sexual abuse.

The charges against Gagnon for failing to report child abuse deal with the time period between January 2011 and September 2012 and October 2012 through February 2013.

"I think it's clearly stated that the best information the state has is three people reporting what other people have told them," Reinhart said. "(Gagnon) should have never been charged. They should have charged the person to have reason to believe there could have been child abuse, not a person getting second-hand information."

Florida law does not require prior approval from a principal to report suspected abuse or neglect.

Reinhart also filed Friday to dismiss charges against Gagnon for providing false reports to law enforcement.

"Asking somebody what they remember and then saying it differs from what someone else remembers is not false information," Reinhart said. "I do not believe the charge is correct."

In his job as principal, Gagnon received training in reporting child abuse.

Gagnon was suspended without pay in October 2013, along with former assistant principals Matthew Kane and Gregg Faller, who also face felony charges for failure to report child abuse.

"I do not think they had any grounds to dismiss him," Reinhart said. "Bob was just a principal, and people were coming to him with second- and third-hand information. It is not his duty to report. If anyone should be charged with a crime, it's them. It's clear that it is nothing more than political motivation."

Gagnon declined comment Monday.

The trial date for Gagnon, Kane and Faller has been set for June 16.

"We will not comment on any of these court cases," said Steve Valley, Manatee County School District spokesman.

Former Manatee County School District investigator Debra Horne also faces charges for failure to report child abuse. Horne has entered a pre-trial intervention program that if successfully completed, allows the charges against her to be dropped. She announced her retirement from the school district in October 2013,

Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.

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