Former Manatee High coach Rod Frazier makes a deal, avoids jail time

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 30, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Roderick Frazier will not serve any jail time for the charges that he inappropriately touched students, staff and faculty at Manatee High School.

In court Wednesday morning, Frazier entered pleas of no contest to three misdemeanor counts of battery and three counts of interfering with school attendance.

Under the deal worked out between the defense and the state attorney's office, prosecutors agreed to drop four other battery charges and one interference charge in exchange for the pleas.

Frazier will serve six months of house arrest and three years of probation. He also must complete 90 days in an offender work program within the first year, according to the deal.

There will be no willful contact with the victims, as well, as part of his sentence.

Frazier must voluntarily surrender his teaching and coaching certificates, and his ability to teach or coach in a public school in Florida has been revoked for life.

"By admitting no contest, you are admitting there is at least some factual basis for these charges," Judge Doug Henderson told Frazier in accepting the pleas.

Henderson reminded Frazier that any new crimes committed will constitute a violation of probation, and he could then be sentenced to a year of jail time per battery count.

"You don't have to worry about that," Frazier responded.

After the hearing, Frazier immediately reported to his probation officer and did not make any public statements, allowing defense attorney Edwin Mulock to speak on his behalf.

"All in all, I think it was a best interest plea agreement for all parties," Mulock said. "There was never one piece of evidence that Mr. Frazier had sexual relations with or touched any student inappropriately. And I think that is important."

Despite that, Frazier accepted the deal because the case has taken an emotional toll on him, and he no longer had the money to continue a legal battle, Mulock said.

The case surrounding the charges was bigger than Frazier, Mulock contended, and is not yet over.

"Remember the school board wants to get Frazier because that is their basis for getting (former Manatee High principal Robert) Gagnon and everybody else," Mulock said. "I think the best stories are yet to come."

An attorney for one of Frazier's victims spoke out at the courthouse after the deal was reached.

"Mr. Frazier's behavior has severely damaged our client's life and destroyed any hope she had for a normal high school experience," attorney Damian Mallard said. "While she is pleased with today's plea agreement, as it serves her some modicum of justice, the long-term effects on her mental and physical health cannot yet be known."

The girl's mother, who attended the sentencing, joined the attorney outside the court.

"I'm pleased that it's coming to an end," Alice Kaddatz said. "There is some relief."

Kaddatz was at a loss for words to describe the effect the case has had on her family.

"To find out what happened after it did, and then to have to sit in court and listen, it's hard," Kaddatz said.

After the hearing, the lead prosecutor in the case also issued a statement.

"This was a very emotional experience for these victims," said Assistant State Attorney Heather Doyle. "We sought justice, he was convicted of these crimes, and he is being punished for these crimes. We were able to bring justice for the victims without requiring their courtroom testimony."

The probe into Frazier began as he was put on paid leave for one day when the allegation were originally investigated by the school district in November 2012. It was not reported to law enforcement at the time.

The Bradenton Police Department began an investigation Feb. 7, 2013, after learning of the allegations. The State Attorney's Office Crimes Against Children Division began investigating two days later.

In November 2013, Henderson ordered eight separate trials for Frazier after ruling prosecutors had inappropriately linked the battery charges, which involved separate victims and incidents.

Other Manatee schools officials were implicated during the Frazier investigation.

Former school district investigator Debra Horne entered a pre-trial intervention program last month that will result in the charges against her being dropped if successfully completed. Horne, who initially handled the investigation of Frazier, was charged with one felony count of failure to report child abuse.

Three other former school district officials-- Gagnon and former assistant principals Matthew Kane and Gregg Faller -- still face felony charges they did not report suspicions of child abuse to the state abuse hotline. Their trial is set for June 16.

The three are also in the process of fighting their terminations from the district.

Stephen Valley, spokesman for the School District of Manatee County, said the district had no comment on Wednesday's proceedings because Frazier is no longer a district employee.

-- Herald staff writer John Lembo contributed to this story.

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

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