Police Re-Open Criminal Investigation Into Rocky River Teachers

Rocky River High School in Rocky River, Ohio
Rocky River Police are reopening an investigation prompted by a video showing two Rocky River High School teachers discussing another teacher who they believed had a sexually explicit photo of a female student. [Gayle S. Putrich/ ideastream]

Rocky River Police have re-opened the criminal case involving teachers at Rocky River High School, which stemmed from a video showing teachers speaking inappropriately about a female student and referring to an alleged sexually explicit photo taken of her.

Last week, Rocky River Police said its investigation yielded “insufficient evidence” and the case would be closed with no charges filed in the incident that led to six high school staff members being placed on paid administrative leave.

But in a new statement to media, the department said “investigators were made aware that previously undisclosed information may exist that indicates evidence of criminal activity” over the weekend.

The video at the center of the investigation shows two teachers talking about another teacher’s claims that he took a photo of a female student’s genitals. In the tape, one teacher said he blocked the colleague on his phone so as not to receive the picture.

That teacher said: “I’m not above being a pervert, but I’m not going there.”

Last Thursday, Rocky River Police announced that despite the video, “no evidence of photos of students or inappropriate discussions about students were contained in the text message thread among the teachers.”

In a police report, an investigator said the picture sent around in a faculty group text thread, was ultimately found to be not of the female student, but rather was a “spoofed picture” of June Cleaver from the show “Leave it to Beaver,” exposing herself.

Also included in the report was an interview with the female student victim, who said she never gave the teacher any pictures or noticed him taking pictures of her. The student did state that the teacher deleted his Snapchat account the day the situation became public and also said he used Snapchat to talk with students and had students send selfies from parties so he could tell them if they looked high or drunk, according to the police report.

The student also said the teacher added girls to Snapchat, the report says, and that the student had also heard of the teacher “having girls to his house once they graduated.” The teachers in the video also discussed the teacher in question spending time with a recent female graduate.

After police released the video to the media, Rocky River City Schools Superintendent Michael Shoaf released a video statement Thursday blasting the teachers, saying he was “…disgusted, I’m shocked, and as the father of a teenage daughter in this district, I’m angry.”

In a statement released March 23, the school district said it would follow the board of education’s policy for internal investigations.

“This includes interviews, review of pertinent materials as well as consideration of any new facts which may come to light. During this process, the district has made the decision to place two additional staff members on administrative leave. Currently, there are six individuals on such leave,” the statement said.

In announcing the re-opening of the criminal case, Rocky River Police said it was important to distinguish between the police criminal investigation and the district’s internal investigation.

“While sufficient evidence to file criminal complaints may be lacking, it is the responsibility of an employer to investigate and determine if personnel violated employer rules, policies, codes of conduct, or administrative codes, and determine appropriate consequences for any violations that are identified,” police said.

The staff members will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is completed.

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