BRADENTON, Fla. – School surveillance cameras show that a teacher's aide who was punched by an angry father after allegedly molesting a student was not even in the room when girl said she was harassed, school officials said.
"We have found that (the aide) is not guilty of what this young lady has accused him of doing, that her accusations are false," said Lakewood Ranch High School Superintendent Roger Dearing.
The sheriff's department also found no evidence of wrongdoing, and the Manatee County school board said the 15-year-old girl might have lied to get back at the man for disciplining her.
The girl's father, Dave F. Swafford, was charged with felony battery on a school employee after he hit the 35-year-old Tuesday in front of a full class. A Tampa radio station named him "Father of the Year" and offered the family Daytona 500 race tickets.
Swafford, 42, is standing by his foster daughter.
He said the girl's friends told him they had similar experiences with the aide. Swafford also said he questioned his daughter before reporting the allegations.
"I told her that I wasn't doubting her, but if she had any second thoughts on this, or thinks it might have happened differently and she interrupted me and said, 'Dad, come on, if I was lying I would have told you before we went to his classroom because I saw how mad you were,"' Swafford said Thursday.
Dearing said the district has statements from students and footage from a school security camera that show the aide couldn't have been in the classroom at the time. The aide, who was placed on paid leave, will return to work Monday, Dearing said.