Sunday, November 15, 2009

IN: Teacher accused of hitting student will avoid trial

By Vic Ryckaert

November 14, 2009

A former Perry Township teacher has surrendered his teaching license to avoid trial on allegations that he struck a disabled student in 2008.

Thomas Cripe, 65, will not be allowed to teach in Indiana or other states under a diversion agreement filed Friday in Marion Superior Court.

“It turned out to be a good outcome for everyone,” said his attorney, John Kautzman. “The state and the victim’s mother didn’t want him to teach anymore, and our client was enjoying his retirement.”

If Cripe does not get arrested in the next two years, prosecutors will dismiss two charges of battery that alleged Cripe twice struck Brent Mobley, then 20, in August 2008 at RISE Learning Center, 5391 Shelby St.

Mario Massillamany, a spokesman for County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, said the key goal was ensuring that Cripe never returns to a classroom. “The victims, their biggest concern was that he never teaches again, and that he admits guilt.”

Mobley has autism and severe mental retardation. Cripe’s attorneys, Kautzman and Andrew Duncan, said Mobley was unruly and struck the teacher first.

In each instance, defense attorneys said, Cripe struck Mobley across the face after verbal commands failed. Cripe, a teacher for 17 years, retired after the incidents.

Kautzman said he believed Cripe would have won an acquittal had the trial continued. State law, he said, gives teachers the right to use a reasonable amount of corporal punishment to maintain order.

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