Trials set for Mountain View officials - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Trials set for Mountain View officials

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Posted: Friday, May 7, 2004 10:04 am | Updated: 5:11 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

The misdemeanor trial of Mountain View High School athletic director David Hines will begin 3 p.m. June 3 in Mesa Municipal Court.

Hines and Mountain View assistant principal Holly Williams face charges of failing to notify police of allegations a football player forced a girl’s head into his crotch during a science class Sept. 10. Williams’ trial is scheduled to begin June 30.

Attorney John R. Hannah, who represents Hines and Williams, told Judge Norine Richardson that he will request a jury trial for Hines.

Hannah said witnesses will testify that sexual abuse did not occur — although the school suspended the football player over allegations of sexual harassment after the girl complained Sept. 15 about the incident.

"The question is whether there was a reportable crime," Hannah said. "There was a classroom full of witnesses who said the alleged act of sexual abuse didn’t happen."

Although the football player told investigators he forced the girl’s head into his crotch, the confession did not come until Sept. 19. Hines and Williams may not have had that information available to them when they made their decision not to report the allegations immediately to police.

Hannah said the administrators relied instead on the best information available to them on Sept. 15.

Mesa prosecutor John Pombier said it is not relevant whether the football player committed sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or neither. He said the law requires him to prove that Hines and Williams had "reasonable grounds to believe" that sexual abuse might have occurred.

During the Arizona School Boards Association law conference in September, Tempe school attorney Janis Merrill said school officials should not conduct their own investigations when allegations come to their attention.

"It’s your duty to report as school personnel. It’s not your duty to investigate," said Merrill, who represents Tempe Union High, Kyrene Elementary and Tempe Elementary school districts.

Chandler High School followed this pattern during an incident on Dec. 19, 2002.

In that case, an anonymous caller accused a male coach of spending "a lot of time" with one of his female athletes. School officials reported the situation to Chandler police the same day of the phone call.

A police officer conducted a one-day investigation and determined that no crime occurred.

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