Teacher cleared of charges

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 26, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Charges of sexual misconduct with a middle school student have been dropped and Darick Cherry will return to John F. Kennedy Middle School to continue teaching physical education classes.

Cherry was cleared of all suspicion Friday following a meeting between Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson, the 13-year-old female accuser and her mother. The girl admitted that Cherry had exhibited no improper conduct with her. She also apologized to the teacher.

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Cherry was suspended with pay, however, he will return to school only after the court provides a statement to the Suffolk Public School Board, said Bethanne Bradshaw, a spokeswoman for the schools. He will also attend a meeting with the board prior to his return to JFK.

The charge of sexual battery was lodged against the teacher after the student said he rubbed against her during a March 3 gym class. Two other teachers and about 85 students were in the gym at the time.

After he was cleared of charges, Cherry said he had no animosity toward the girl. She was also transferred to another school.

As for the charges brought by Suffolk Police, Ferguson said police secured the warrants for Cherry’s arrest only after they found probable cause in the matter.

&uot;Obviously, when you get into a case and you start investigating it, stories change and other things occur, where initially you thought you had one thing, then maybe it’s not quite so clear,&uot; said Ferguson. &uot;When police do their investigation, we continue to interview witnesses. In addition, we have a burden of proof that is much higher. Based on our knowledge of what police had – I don’t think anyone could find fault with the police department – this was not something they did wrong, but instead they acted upon information they had at that time.&uot;

Ferguson said that based upon the discussion with the victim and her family, they agreed to drop all charges against Cherry.