Does Florida's Mandatory Reporting Law Apply to Arnold High's Sex Scandal?

By: Cameron Taylor Email
By: Cameron Taylor Email

PANAMA CITY BEACH - Florida's mandatory reporting law requires anyone with knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect child abuse to report it.

At least two Arnold High School employees told the Bay County School District they heard rumors about an inappropriate relationship between suspended Athletic Director Karisa Wesley and a male student.

But they did not report it until asked during the investigation - so could they now face charges? Not according to what the Bay County Sheriff's Office told Newschannel 7.

The Bay County School District's report on the Arnold sex scandal cites multiple people who heard rumors about Athletic Director Karisa Wesley having an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

But neither reported it - until they were interviewed earlier this month.

Sharon Michalik, the head of Human Resources for Bay District Schools, in her report says "I spoke to Arnold Principal Keith Bland about these allegations and he noted that he had heard a rumor about that but had absolutely no substantiation."

Frank Padulah, teacher and assistant football coach, says "he had heard rumors about student A and student B and teachers but had no proof of anything" according to Michalik's report.

Florida's mandatory reporting law requires anyone with knowledge of child abuse to report it.

"One would tend to act where the rumors are persistent and seem to have strength and under those circumstances, perhaps the statute could be applied because that person would be deemed to have knowledge," said attorney, Wes Pittman.

Attorney Wes Pittman says the statute could could apply in this case.

"If one reads the statute literally, it would seem to apply to say that one who heard a rumor after the events transpired, but who did not report them, are guilty of violating the statute," said Pittman.

But Pittman says unless there is proof someone had specific knowledge and failed to report, police can use their own discretion

In this case - the Bay County Sheriff's Office tells NewsChannel 7 says the rumors do not rise to the statute - and they will not file any charges.

Wesley could be fired at Tuesday's school board meeting. She has yet to return our calls.

Arnold Principal Keith Bland declined our request for an interview Friday saying he will wait until after Tuesday's meeting.


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