Ag teacher accused of drowning raccoons won't face charges

OCALA, Florida (KTRK) -- A Florida high school teacher accused of drowning raccoons during class won't face criminal charges, according to a memo released by the state attorney's office.

Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Brad King wrote that the Forest High School agricultural science teacher did not "torment" the animals and was not unnecessarily cruel as he held the trapped raccoons in trash cans filled to the brim with water on May 15.

He was placed on paid administrative leave after cell phone video appeared to show him drowning wild raccoons.

The video was shot by a student upset by what was happening.

The mother of the student who shot the video, both who wish to remain anonymous, said to a reporter at WKMG-TV, "It made me sick. It made me sick to my stomach. It's terrible. It still does make me sick to my stomach."

The raccoons were apparently caught by the agriculture teacher. One of the raccoons was said to have eaten one of the chickens being raised by the class.

The cell phone video shows the raccoons in a cage being immersed in water in a trash can and drowning in front of the class.

The student who shot the video claims the teacher threatened anyone who recorded the drownings with a referral.

The teacher has worked at the high school since 2006.

In a statement, the Marion County School Board said:
"While law enforcement tells us the teacher may not have done anything illegal, his actions before students are certainly questionable."

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer involved in the investigation told prosecutors that he didn't believe the teacher intended to be cruel or inhumane, but that drowning is not a recommended means of euthanasia.

"The definition of torment requires proof that the pain or suffering be unjustifiable, of which there is essentially no proof, particularly as to the defendant's state of mind. Furthermore, (the teacher) indicated that he saw no reasonable remedy, as he weighed his available options. This reality casts further doubt on the ability of the State to prove the allegations beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt," King wrote.
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