The former Manatee County School Assistant superintendent, caught up in a coach sex scandal, wants his job back.
Robert Gagnon spoke out for the first time since being accused and acquitted of trying to cover up sex allegations against a high school football coach.
Gagnon insists the allegations against him have cost him his job and salary, and in a recent ruling a judge agrees. Now that Gagnon has been cleared, he is calling on the district to make up the wrongdoings for him and his family.
"It's been beyond brutal. It's been torturous to see your face, your name in the paper, to have yourself portrayed in front of your family, your kids this way when you know it's absolutely the opposite. I've always gone over and above protecting my kids," Gagnon said.
Gagnon's life has been turned upside down in the past year. He lost his job as assistant superintendent. The long-time educator was accused of sweeping allegations of inappropriate touching by Manatee High Assistant Football Coach Rod Frazier under the rug. Gagnon says that's just not true, but he's been silenced by the district from defending himself until now.
"It's been a very difficult year-and-a-half. It is exciting that finally the truth is coming out. Children's safety has always been my top priority. They had no right to suspend me from the very beginning that's abundantly clear at this point," Gagnon said. "To be portrayed in a way like this, it's just nothing short of criminal."
"The information that Mr. Gagnon was apprised of was not enough to make any reasonable human being report that to child abuse authorities," said Richard Reinhart, Gagnon's attorney. "When Mr. Gagnon was apprised of things, he took the appropriate steps to address it."
"I mean it's for me, it is horrifying," says Gagnon's wife, Melissa. "To think that anyone could think that a man, who would serve not only our children and community's children, everyone's children ... you realize my goodness this is just insane, ridiculous."
A judge just sided with Gagnon, agreeing the district should give him his job back and back pay.
Manatee schools spokesman Mike Barber says the district won't talk about Gagnon's case until a decisions has been made by the superintendent. "He's reviewing the matter," Barber said.
Barber told 10 News that Gagnon was suspended as assistant superintendent and that position's been filled, and the administrative role he was given has been eliminated.
If the decision winds up in the hands of the school board, Reinhart has asked that Chair Julie Aranibar and Member Karen Carpenter have no say. Reinhart claims they have made public comments against Gagnon. "There's just too much question of their ability to be fair and impartial," Reinhart said. "These two need to recuse themselves, the remaining board members need to move on, get this case over with as quickly as possible."
Neither Aranibar nor Carpenter returned calls seeking comment.
Gagnon feels he can still work in a district he believes did not give him the benefit of the doubt. "I know I could work with the people of the district. The leadership of the district might be a little difficult at this point. I'm a professional. I just want people to be held accountable for what they did and what they said, and I am able to move forward working with children," Gagnon said.
The district says the superintendent could have a decision about Gagnon's fate by the end of the week.