Bradenton police recommend sexual battery charges against Sugg Middle School coach

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 12, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Bradenton police have recommended charges of sexual battery in the case against a Sugg Middle School physical education coach.

Police are recommending that Brian Stephens be charged with lewd and lascivious battery.

"The paperwork has been sent over to the State Attorney's Office," Bradenton Police Lt. James Racky said.

The state attorney's office will review the case and decide whether or not to prosecute.

Brett McIntosh, the coach's attorney, said they will wait and see what the State Attorney's Office decides.

"He 100 percent maintains his innocence," McIntosh said. "He has given his statement to the Bradenton police, voluntarily."

Stephens has also been the head coach of the Manatee High School junior varsity baseball team.

Immediately after the incident, the coach was reassigned from his teaching position to a different department within the school district, with no contact with children, pending the outcome of criminal and administrative investigations.

"We have no comment on that, it is a police issue," Manatee County School District spokesman Steve Valley said on hearing the recommended charge.

The school district indicated following the allegations that it would wait for the competition of the criminal investigation before the district's Office of Professional Standards conduct its own investigation to determine whether any school board or Florida Department of Education policies were violated.

Bradenton police were notified of the incident after 4 p.m. March 4, about three hours after Sugg's administration learned of it. The school resource officer was off-campus for a meeting when administration first learned of the incident.

An eighth-grade female student approached an assistant principal during her lunch hour and said she had been touched in the area of her breasts by the coach.

Reportedly the girl had on a breast cancer shirt, school officials have said, and the coach swiped his hand across her chest.

The student was taken to the administration office and school officials began conducting interviews.

Child Protective Services was contacted at about 3 p.m. that day and began to investigate.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office would not comment on the outcome of that investigation.

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

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