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School worker accused of molestation

By TIMES STAFF
Published May 3, 2007


LARGO

A heating and air conditioning mechanic who works for the Pinellas County School Board was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with capital sex battery, among other offenses. Robert Morgan, 35, is accused of the sexual battery and molestation of a pre-teen, according to an arrest report. He is also charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation, one count of lewd and lascivious battery, and one count of assault. The alleged crimes did not take place on school property. Morgan was being held at the Pinellas County Jail without bail. He is currently on "non-pay status, " according to School Board spokeswoman Andrea Zahn. If Morgan is released, Zahn said, he will be placed on administrative leave.

CLEARWATER

City may set aside $50, 000 in lawsuit

The Clearwater City Council tonight is expected to set aside $50, 000 to defend itself and several retired Clearwater police officers in a lawsuit stemming from a death nearly three decades ago. John Niesen last month sued the city in federal court, saying the officers violated his brother's civil rights and caused his death. Niesen has long claimed that his brother, Michael, 18, was killed in July 1977 by police who were distraught over the death of a fellow officer who was thrown from his brother's truck while his brother was trying to escape from a traffic stop. Police say the younger Niesen died from injuries caused by the wreck. The crash also claimed the life of rookie patrolman Ronald Mahony, 21. The money set aside is for pre-trial costs. If the case goes to court, city officials said it would cost "much more." The city is required by ordinance to represent the officers.

Local land bill heads to governor

A bill that deals with submerged land off the Memorial Causeway was headed to the governor Wednesday after the Florida Senate joined the House in approving the bill. The legislation would grant amnesty for any property owners in the Island Estates area who may have violated a 1925 state law by building private docks. It also would allow future docks subject to voter approval. City leaders also believe the bill could fortify the voter-approved boat slip project against potential litigation by opponents who say it's not a public purpose.

Man arrested in bank robbery

Another Clearwater bank was robbed Wednesday morning, but not by the serial robber who has hit four banks in Clearwater and one in Largo in the last two weeks. Wednesday's robbery took place at the Wachovia Bank at 130 Island Way on Clearwater Beach. The Clearwater police arrested and charged Wesley Musser, 24, with the robbery. Musser was found hiding in the bushes just west of the bank, after someone called authorities just before noon, police said. Police said that Musser is a transient whose last known address was in Indiana. He did not display a weapon in the robbery. All the money was recovered.

Correction

Evelyn Bartoszek of Largo has prepared about 1, 000 care packages for U.S. troops overseas. An incorrect figure appeared in a story Tuesday.