A Catholic school band teacher and assistant band instructor have been fired after reports of alleged abuse.
Saint Thomas More School Principal Brian Borgmeyer sent a letter to parents and guardians Thursday saying that Gregg Briggs and Tod Barnard have been fired after both men were placed on leave earlier in the month.
On March 14, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office filed charges against 53-year-old Barnard after an 11-year-old student said he had groped her chest.
Barnard was charged with two counts of second-degree child molestation and two counts of third-degree assault, all misdemeanors.
Court documents said the student's parents noticed she began exhibiting signs of anxiety about attending band class and they contacted the school when she unexpectedly told them she no longer wanted to participate in band activities. The girl told a counselor that she had been touched inappropriately by the band teacher's assistant on several different occasions as far back as December, a police report stated.
Barnard denied accidentally or intentionally groping the girl. He did admit that he had fallen into her and his hand had "hit her somewhere on her body," according to court records.
While no charges were ever filed against Briggs, the letter to parents said that he was terminated after a review by the school's Independent Review Board.
"The termination recommendation is based on Mr. Briggs' admitted violation of diocesan standards of behavior," the letter said.
The review board did not investigate Barnard since there are current charges against him and opted to terminate him instead.
"The band program will continue throughout the remainder of the school year and into the future school years. We at the school are very proud of the hard work and dedication of the band students. We will be celebrating their talents with a concert in May," the letter said. "During this difficult time for our community, please be assured the safety of your children is our top priority."
Read the full letter here:
March 27, 2014
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I want to inform you about decisions that have been made regarding the status of band instructors Gregg Briggs and Tod Barnard. As you know, both instructors were placed on leave earlier this month following the initiation of investigations into both men concerning allegations of suspicious behavior.
When the police investigation of Mr. Briggs was concluded with no charges filed, the matter was reviewed by the diocesan Independent Review Board. The Independent Review Board is a confidential consultative group of professionals assembled to advise the Bishop on matters related to child and youth protection. On March 26, the Board recommended the termination of Mr. Briggs. According to the Board, "The termination recommendation is based on Mr. Briggs admitted violation of diocesan standards of behavior." Bishop Robert Finn reviewed the recommendation and determined that the recommendation should be followed. Accordingly, St. Thomas More School has severed its relationship with Mr. Briggs.
The Review Board did not conduct an investigation of the allegations against Mr. Barnard because he has been charged by civil authorities and that process is ongoing. Fr. Farnan and I have decided that caution dictates that St. Thomas More School also terminates its relationship with Mr. Barnard.
The band program at St. Thomas More School has continued to be taught since March 5, 2014 by a teacher currently employed by the school. The band program will continue throughout the remainder of the school year and into the future school years. We at the school are very proud of the hard work and dedication of the band students. We will be celebrating their talents with a concert in May.
During this difficult time for our community, please be assured the safety of your children is our top priority. Counselors will be on hand Friday, March 28th if any student would like to visit with them. If you suspect abuse, please report it to the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-392-3738. We also ask you to report abuse to local police. Finally, if the suspected abuser works or volunteers for the Church, please contact Ombudsman Jenifer Valenti at 816-812-2500.
Sincerely, Brian Borgmeyer Principal St. Thomas More School
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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