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 AD’s Fate in Question as Probes Continue

May 6, 2009 - Although it has been nearly two weeks since David Bradford, athletic director for the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation, allegedly struck a player on the Knightstown High School softball team he coaches, investigations by law enforcement and CAB are still not complete.

Bradford allegedly struck a 17-year old KHS junior on her left arm during a home game April 23 after becoming angry with his players for laughing about a teammate’s error. The following day, CAB Superintendent Gary Storie placed Bradford on paid administrative leave while he investigates the matter.

Last week, at the beginning of a special strategic planning meeting on April 29, School Board President Kevin Knott announced Storie’s decision to place Bradford on paid leave. He said that would be “the totality of the board’s comment at this time.”

At the end of the meeting, however, just prior to adjournment, The Banner asked if the board planned to approved Storie’s decision to place Bradford, who earns an annual base salary of nearly $60,000 and total compensation of $97,120, on paid leave. While Storie told the board he didn’t think their approval was necessary, he said it was OK for them to go ahead and vote on it, which they did, approving his decision by a vote of 7-0.

On Monday, Storie told The Banner he hoped to have the matter resolved from CAB’s perspective by the end of this week. He said that would entail concluding his investigation, a summary report to be presented to the board in a private executive session, and making a recommendation about Bradford’s employment with CAB.

While the Knightstown Police Department initially submitted its investigation report to the prosecutor’s office early last week, requesting that Bradford be charged with battery, the prosecutor’s office felt more work needed to be done. According to Scott Pinkerton, investigator for the Henry County Prosecutor’s office, a detective from the Henry County Sheriff’s Department was assigned to work with the KPD on the case.

Speaking to The Banner on Tuesday morning, Pinkerton said the investigation is ongoing. He said Prosecutor Kit Crane, who is in Washington, D.C., due to his military unit was called up for service, is reviewing the evidence that has been collected so far, but that no decision has been made to charge Bradford with a crime.

Under state law, a person commits the crime of battery if they “knowingly or intentionally (touch) another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.” Normally a Class B misdemeanor that can result in a maximum of 180 days in jail and $1,000 fine, if the battery results in bodily injury, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor that can result in up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The initial police report the KPD released to The Banner last week had few details about the incident. Additional documentation provided on Monday, however, shed more light on the allegations against Bradford.

The alleged victim told KPD officer Derek Hall that Bradford knocked her off the bench in the dugout when he hit her. She reportedly told Hall that Bradford then began to yell and curse at her, telling her she didn’t know how to play softball.

The report that KPD released on Monday includes a summary of a statement that Bradford gave when he was briefly interviewed by the KPD on April 27. According to Hall, Bradford said his contact with the girl had been unintentional, and that he didn’t even realize he “must have pushed her” until after the end of the inning when he noticed the girl crying when she came out of the dugout. Bradford told Hall he apologized to the girl and told he would be around if her parents wanted to speak with him.

The girl’s mother, Dianne Roland, told The Banner on Monday that she finds Bradford’s version of events unbelievable. Noting that the contact had been enough to knock her daughter off the bench, she said Bradford’s claims – not only that the contact was accidental, but that he didn’t immediately realize he hit her -- can’t be taken seriously.

“He obviously could not have not known he hit her, leaving a mark on her arm that was there and actually left a bruise,” Roland said. “… To hit her and leave a bruise on her arm without being aware that he did it -- that is pretty unlikely.”

Roland said her daughter believes Bradford intentionally hit her. “She said does not think that he accidentally struck her,” she said. “She thinks that he was mad and did it because (the players) were laughing and she was just the closest one, so she was the one that he hit.”

One thing that concerns Roland is how CAB has been handling its investigation. She said she had heard that school officials investigating this matter had spoken with a couple of the other players who were in the dugout several times last week. She said these girls told her daughter they were sick of talking about this matter.

“My theory,” Roland said. “is they’re trying to find a way where if they ask them enough times what their story is, they’ll leave something out or say something differently that will give them an out to say, ‘OK, you’re not a reliable witness, so we can discount you.’”

Roland said school officials only spoke to her daughter one time about the incident. She said she’d been told that one of the other students, however, had been spoken to at least four times. According to Roland, that girl told her daughter she was frustrated and didn’t want to talk anymore about it. Roland said she and her husband were concerned that the other girl would simply change her story to end her involvement in the controversy.

While CAB has made no final decision about what will happen to Bradford, Roland said she doesn’t believe he should be able to serve as athletic director next year. She said her daughter, a junior, is worried about having to interact with Bradford.

If CAB were to simply decide to suspend Bradford without pay for a few weeks, a possibility she said had been mentioned by Storie and Pinkerton, she said she didn’t think that would be sufficient. “He’s not going to care,” Roland said. “That’s just more time off for him.”

According to Roland, Pinkerton said the three weeks without pay would likely be more than any fine that would be imposed if he faced criminal charges. Other conditions she said Pinkerton discussed would be that Bradford could not attend athletic events while suspended, could not coach for two years, and would possibly have to take some anger management classes.

When The Banner spoke to Pinkerton on Tuesday morning, he declined to discuss the details of his conversation with Roland and her husband, or with CAB. Because the matter is still under investigation, he said he could not comment on specifics of those discussions.

Noting that another player on her daughter’s softball team had been kicked off the team after being caught drinking at a party, she said, “She made a mistake, made a bad error in judgment, and she has to suffer the consequences. Why shouldn’t he? … What kind of message is it when we tell our kids there are consequences to your actions, unless of course you’re a big enough big shot that you don’t need to.”

“My personal opinion is I’m not comfortable with Bradford being the athletic director next year,’ she said. “If (CAB) wants to be stupid and keep him on as a teacher ... that is up to them.”

Roland told The Banner on Monday she felt the prosecutor’s office was telling her and her husband that because their daughter had said she didn’t want to see Bradford go to jail over the incident, there wasn’t much they could do to him. Pinkerton said that was not what he told the Rolands.

According to Pinkerton, the prosecutor’s office will review the evidence to determine if they think there’s probable cause that a crime has been committed. He did say, however, that the prosecutor’s office will also take into consideration the victim and what their thoughts are, and always ask them what they’d like to see done. “That’s not a determining factor, but it’s nice to be your victims and be considerate to how they feel about things,” Pinkerton said.

 

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