Thursday, March 09, 2006

Parents decry teacher's plea agreement - THE PORTAGE DAILY REGISTER

I represented Mr. Bravick in defense of baseless charges of invasion of privacy. These charges were dismissed yesterday, so that Mr. Bravick and his family may move forward with their life and seek return to his employment position.

by Paul Ferguson

Parents of some Poynette Middle School students say justice isn't being served in the case of a former physical education teacher accused of entering a girls' locker room while the girls were undressed on several occasions in March of last year.

The Columbia County District Attorney's office dismissed invasion-of-privacy charges Wednesday against Dennis Bravick, 45, and settled on a deferred prosecution agreement for a bail-jumping charge to which Bravick pleaded no contest.

Under the agreement, the charge will be suspended and ultimately dismissed if Bravick complies with certain conditions for two years.

Parents spoke out against Bravick, a 17-year veteran of the school district, at Wednesday's plea hearing.

One mother said she'd moved out of the Poynette district due mostly to Bravick. She said she hopes he'll never teach physical education again.

Another mother characterized the deferred prosecution agreement as Bravick "getting his hand slapped."

"When these young adults stood up for what they believed to be right, the justice system shouldn't let them down," the woman said.

She listed several alleged incidents that made three of her daughters feel uncomfortable around Bravick. The mother said she'd heard many stories from her daughters' schools, "but none as disturbing as Mr. Bravick's."

The agreement stipulates that Bravick, a married father of two, is to undergo psychological evaluation and counseling, stay out of trouble and have no contact with any of his accusers. With certain exceptions, he is to stay at least 1,000 feet away from Poynette School District property and may not attend any extracurricular activities involving Poynette schools.

In the event that an arbitration case in which Bravick is appealing his dismissal from the school district ends with his employment being reinstated, his contract can be revisited or terminated.
Assistant District Attorney Crystal Long said she and defense attorney Erik Guenther reached the plea agreement after many hours of negotiations, which began in earnest as the prosecution's case began to unravel weeks ago.

One of four initial counts of privacy invasion was dropped Feb. 24 when it was discovered Bravick wasn't in school on the day alleged. Long said Wednesday she had to dismiss the remaining three charges because one key witness recently changed her story while testifying in Bravick's arbitration case.

To get a plea from Bravick for the deferred prosecution agreement, Long filed a one-count case of misdemeanor bail jumping Tuesday, accusing Bravick of violating bond conditions simply by going to Poynette High School Dec. 29 for an arbitration hearing.

Judge Daniel George said he understood that it frustrated the parents to let the privacy-invasion charges go.

"Given the sentiments that exist, perhaps a better course of procedure might have been to try it and let the jury determine for itself whether he was guilty or not guilty," he told Long.

But Long said a concern that prosecutors deal with every day is taking unsuitable charges to a jury and getting an unjust conviction. Once the new testimony came to light, "Invasion of privacy, which is what he was charged under, didn't fit anymore," Long said.

Guenther said Bravick acknowledged violating bail conditions, but the attorney declined comment on the allegations raised by parents. As to the formal charges, "He's maintained throughout that he didn't commit the invasion of privacy charges that were alleged," Guenther said.

In addition to Bravick's pending arbitration case, he is under investigation by the Department of Public Instruction, according to the teacher licensing database on DPI's Web site.
DPI spokesman Joe Donovan said such investigations could lead to revocation of Bravick's teaching licenses if investigators find Bravick committed immoral conduct, defined in state law as "conduct or behavior that is contrary to commonly accepted ethical or moral standards and that endangers the health, safety, welfare or education of any pupil."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Bravick is definately not guilty. Students accused him of this once a day when he was not present. A few students also confessed that it is all a lie. Mr. Bravick is not guilty!!

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work in the Poynette school district. This investigation was mishandled. The girls were interviewed without the presence of parents. The facts are so muddled, it is difficult to determine Mr. Bravick's innocence or guilt and come to a solution that is "fair" to both Mr. Bravick and his female students.

9:17 PM  

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