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Assault Case Underway for Accused Teacher

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A Nelsonville-York elementary school gym teacher accused of hitting one of his students pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault in Athens County Municipal Court on Jan. 9.

Anthony C. Mollica, 54, was scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9 to answer the assault charge. But his attorney, K. Robert Toy, instead submitted a not-guilty plea on Mollica’s behalf, according to court records.

The incident under investigation took place Dec. 12, when Mollica was reported having struck a 7-year-old female student at the end of one of his gym classes, leaving red marks on her side. This was reported to Superintendent Mick McClelland, who placed Mollica on a five-day suspension following the report.

The Nelsonville-York Board of Education voted to place Mollica on indefinite paid suspension after a Jan. 8 meeting with around 100 parents and community members, many of whom expressed concern of the school’s initial reaction to the alleged assault last December.

McClelland said those who shared their concerns during the public participation portion of the meeting were “very cooperative” and “somewhat influential” on the decision to suspend Mollica.

The school board went into executive session and “had a long discussion” before voting to indefinitely suspend Mollica with pay, which was the board’s only legal option, according to McClelland.

Mollica was involved in a similar incident in 2007, when he was accused of having bullied and intimidated his students, but McClelland said Mollica “came from the court cases.”(this quote seemed incomplete, I wasn’t sure if there was something missing)  One of the parents at the meeting, Robert Chubb, was involved in this case and insisted on boycotting Mollica’s classes, according to The Logan Daily News.

Although Mollica has had previous history with assault accusations, attorney Bob Toy believes his client has nothing to worry about.

“He pled not guilty because he is not guilty,” Toy declared in an interview with The Athens NEWS. “Whatever happened, happened in a gym-load of children, and there was a camera that would have shown everything that was happening… This is a lot of ado about nothing.”

Though he had no comment regarding the current situation, the school board’s attorney, Dane Gaschen of Bricker & Eckler in Columbus, said the Ohio Board of Education has not yet made a decision about the occurrence, so it “would not be possible to make any comparisons” to the 2007 incident.

Neither McClelland nor Gaschen could comment on questions regarding measures that may be imposed following the results of the investigation.

According to McClelland, Mollica will be off work until there is at least some resolution to his court case, and the school will be using substitute teachers in his place until then.

Mollica’s preliminary court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 11.

Attempts were made to seek comment from the attorney for the Ohio Educational Association (the union representing Mollica), Grant Shoub of Hunter, Carnahan, Shoub & Byard in Columbus, but were unsuccessful by deadline.

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