The Maxwell School board agreed Monday to pay the legal fees of the Maxwell superintendent Dan Twarling and athletic director Aub Boucher.The amount was not specified.
Twarling and Boucher were cited Sept. 4 for failure to report sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. Wrestling Coach Ryan Jones was also cited. The Nebraska State Patrol issued the citations.
The charge stems from three wrestlers who allegedly sexually abused another wrestler at a 2011 summer camp, and another incident among wrestlers on a team bus in the spring of 2012.
Reading from a motion written by school attorney Tim Thompson, the board unanimously agreed to pay the attorney fees for Twarling and Boucher.
Jones’ fees can be picked up by the teacher’s union, the Nebraska School Education Association.
Maxwell resident Jim Falcon objected. He suggested the school district pay the attorney fees only if the suspects are found innocent. The board declined that request.
Falcon said the board is not communicating well with parents.
“It’s frustrating when their attorney keeps them quiet on everything,” Falcon told the Bulletin the next day. “They read a prepared script for the motion. I don’t think they listen to the input of the community, or respond well.”
Village Board Chairman Shane Montgomery said Tuesday he is also irritated that the taxpayers will pay the legal bills, regardless of guilt or innocence.
“I would think that the administrators should be on their own until this is over,” he said. “If found innocent, it would be logical to pay. But the school is having trouble meeting expenses as it is.”
Montgomery noted that the school’s new budget is $220,000 higher than a year ago. Twarling has said he would like to add two more teachers to bolster the staff that was reduced in recent years.
Montgomery also said some text books are getting old.
As of Tuesday, the case was not scheduled in county court. The Lincoln County Attorney has the task of setting the date.
"I feel like they can drop charges, if it hasn’t happened already," Montgomery told the Bulletin.
North Platte attorney Bob Lindemeier represents Twarling, Boucher and Jones. Within a week of the charges, he claimed his clients are entirely innocent.
"These individuals maintain that they followed school policy and Nebraska law,” Lindemeier said Sept. 12 in a prepared statement. “They obtained accounts of what happened from several students. They investigated the allegations and determined there was no reasonable cause that a child had been subjected to abuse.”
Lindemeier said the alleged victim and his mother told the school employees more than once that the abuse did not ever happen.
The allegations were made by another woman, according to court documents.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Falcon said. “I think it was mishandled, and we lose sight that we need to protect our youth, our kids, and I don’t think that’s happening.”
A month ago, parents told the board they are worried that students don’t have a neutral person to confide in, since the superintendent, high school principal/activities director and wrestling coach have been cited, and the Maxwell school counselor is married to the high school principal.
“What if they don’t feel safe going to administrators?” Montgomery asked.
The board promised to consider it, and on Monday, they recommended that students first talk to their parents if they know of sexual abuse or misconduct. If parents want to talk to someone else at the school, they recommended a specific high school teacher, Carmen Meyer.