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Questions Arise About Prosecutor’s Role in AD Issue
July 1, 2009 - Gary Storie, superintendent for the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation, admits being a bit puzzled by the involvement of Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane in brokering a deal that, it appears, has resulted in Athletic Director Dave Bradford's resignation.
"What does one have to do with the other?" Storie said last week in reference to how CAB and Crane's office have dealt with an allegation that Bradford battered a 17-year-old Knightstown High School softball player he was coaching. "That's what I don't understand."
Speaking to The Banner on Monday, Storie said it had been his belief that CAB and the HCPO both had distinct, separate jobs to do. "I believe that the jurisdictions are different," he said. "... I had to deal with it from my perspective at (CAB) and I know the prosecutor had to deal with it from the criminal aspect."
"I don't want to disparage what the prosecutor does," Storie continued. "His work has got to be pretty hard. It's just that I felt that the two domains should be considered separate."
The day after Bradford allegedly hit the KHS student, Storie placed him on paid leave, a decision the school board would ratify the following week. Storie immediately began his investigation into the incident, and during an executive session on May 19, he presented his findings and recommended that Bradford be suspended without pay for three weeks and be subjected to "other corrective actions" that were not detailed.
According to Crane, at this point, his office was already involved in trying to broker a deal. He claims that the recommendation Storie presented to the school board had actually been an idea he proposed to Storie during a phone conversation they had.
"The only conversation I had with Mr. Storie, I floated that proposal to him, with the understanding that if (CAB) was satisfied with that proposal, I would be satisfied with the proposal," Crane said.
Storie, however, told The Banner that the three week suspension without pay had been his idea. "That was my recommendation to the board," he said. "Kit seemed to be OK with that. ... I feel like that was what I was thinking before I ever talked to the prosecutor. Now, he indicated that he was thinking the same thing, for whatever that means."
Regardless of where the proposal originated, the school board declined to accept the recommendation, which Crane said prompted him to pursue an alternative course of action. Saying he realized more accountability was required on Bradford's part, Crane said he told Bradford's legal counsel on June 10 or 11 that he would not file a criminal charge against Bradford if he agreed to resign from CAB.
"I just encouraged and facilitated the closure," Crane said of the resignation agreement Bradford signed on June 18. He said that his involvement with a potential defendant's employer in cases like this is not without precedent.
"The people of Knightstown had chance to vote for me for prosecutor," Crane said. "They didn't vote for me for school board. … But, as prosecutor, over the last 15 years, there have been opportunities that I've had to assist school boards or other employers in Henry County when situations have come up and it's in everyone's interest to get those situations resolved as expeditiously as possible."
"The power of the prosecuting attorney's office is pretty substantial, and that's something that has humbled me all the years that I've had this office," Crane continued. "... If I can use that position to help facilitate the resolution that a local community are happy with, are satisfied with, and to save substantial money, then I'm going to do that for them."
"Good people make split-second bad decisions that carry with them ramifications for the rest of their lives," Crane said. "... And not that they shouldn't. (Bradford) should be held accountable, and I think through this, he is being held accountable substantially."
Crane said that if Bradford had not resigned, CAB would likely incur additional expenses associated with the steps that were being taken to possibly terminate him. He also said he thought the school board would be at a disadvantage if they went forward with the June 30 hearing Bradford had requested because the school board did not have all the information his office had regarding the incident.
Another factor Crane said he considered was the added delay in resolving this matter that might occur if he charged Bradford. "What if I filed the charge and we didn't get anything in exchange for that charge?" he asked. "How many more weeks would the school corporation be obligated to pay him or employ him until the case goes to a fact finder or a jury? ... Truly, this thing has the potential to linger."
"A prosecutor also has to use his or her discretion on which cases get filed and which can be resolved in a quicker fashion in some other venue or avenue, and that's obviously what I did in this case," Crane said.
Storie told The Banner that he had not been advised by either Crane or CAB's attorney that Bradford's resignation had come after Crane told the athletic director's legal counsel that no criminal charge would be filed if he resigned. He also said he had not been aware that Crane believed there was probable cause to support charging Bradford with battery.
"I'm an educator, not an investigator," Storie said. "I think that certainly would have had a bearing and would have weighed in to some degree on what decision I would have made in terms of what I recommended to the board." Saying he had been "vitally interested" in whether Crane was going to charge Bradford, Storie said he was simply not sure how that may have affected the recommendation he made to the school board in May.
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