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Principal, two officials arrested in abuse case

The school officials are accused of not telling the police immediately about a report of molestation by a second-grade teacher.

By Associated Press
Published May 22, 2003

KISSIMMEE - An elementary school principal and two Osceola County school officials were arrested Wednesday, accused of waiting more than three days to tell police and child welfare officials about a report of sexual abuse by a teacher.

Charged with failure to report known or suspected child abuse were Kenneth Meyers, 54, principal of Kissimmee Elementary School; Lissa Bobet, 37, human resources director for the Osceola County School Board; and Sonia Drudge, 39, an investigator for the School Board.

The second-grade teacher, Matthew Rossillo, 25, was jailed on five counts of lewd or lascivious molestation of a child under age 12. He is accused of sexually molesting five girls of ages 8 and 9 between the end of March and early May.

Florida law requires immediate notification in any suspected case of child abuse, said Sgt. Ralph Moore, a spokesman for the Kissimmee Police Department. "They should have called the police immediately or called the Department of Children and Families," Moore said.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum punishment of a year in jail, Moore said.

Dana Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in a statement that superintendent Blaine Muse supports the three school officials, who will be reassigned to other jobs while being investigated.

"School district staff had an obligation to make a reasonable inquiry into the accusations and once found valid they contacted the police immediately," Schaefer said.

A parent of one of the girls notified Meyers, the school principal, on June 12 that Rossillo had inappropriate contact with his daughter, police spokesman Moore said. Meyers did his own investigation, then notified Bobet. Bobet assigned Drudge to investigate, according to police.

Police weren't told about the abuse allegations until more than three days after Meyers received word of the report, Moore said.

Last December, school officials investigated Rossillo on another student's report of abuse but concluded it was unfounded. The teacher received a warning letter.

After this month's complaint, Rossillo was removed from the classroom and reassigned to a different job without contact with children. Rossillo could not be reached for comment.

[Last modified May 22, 2003, 01:30:54]

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