No Criminal Charges in School Strip Search

Controversy continues to brew in the case

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Teachers accused of stripping students to find $70 won't face any criminal charges for telling students to get down to their skivvies.

A teacher at Pine Academy in Ansonia reported $70 missing in December. Patricia Nicolari, the principal, ordered the searches and two male teachers searched the four students.

Robert Berke is representing the four teenage students at the school, which is an alternative education program for students having trouble in a traditional school setting, the New Haven Register reports.

He told the New Haven Register that the teens accused of stealing the money were brought, one-by-one, into a room with the two male teachers to be strip-searched.

He said the teens said they were told to remove their shirts and pull their pants down. One teen said he was instructed to shake his boxers to see if anything fell out, according to the New Haven Register.

One student claims a teacher pulled on his boxers to see if the money was inside, Berke told the paper.

The students stripped to their underwear but no missing cash was found.

Shelton police and state prosecutors said no crime was committed by stripping the students.

“The case is closed, and no charges will be filed,” Detective Sgt. Kevin Ahern told the New Haven Register. “The individuals may have civil remedies, but we don’t see any criminal wrongdoing.”

Ahern said police are still investigating the missing money from the teacher’s purse.

Detective Ben Trabka told the New Haven Register that there would have to be proof something was done for the purpose of sexual gratification for police to lodge a sexual assault charge. To file a risk of injury to a minor charge, police would need proof that the case either hurt the morals of a minor or put them at great physical or emotional risk.

“This didn’t rise to that level,” Trabka told the newspaper. “There was no sexual connotation to the search — they were looking for missing money. Was it improper? Yes. Was it criminal? No.”

Berke said he won't challenge the police findings, but he plans to file a lawsuit alleging unreasonable searches.

The principal and the two teachers were placed on administrative leave after the incident.

It's not clear whether they're back on the job.
 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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