PINELLAS COUNTY, FL – It’s not rocket science. It’s not even science. It’s a fact that if you violate your pretrial release conditions and threaten your alleged victim, you are going to be arrested.
That’s exactly what happened when a Hillsborough County middle school science teacher purportedly decided to visit his wife, whom he is accused of battering four months ago.
— FranOSullivan (@FranOSullivan7) July 28, 2022
Richard Pokorny, who was charged with domestic battery on March 16, was arrested again July 26, according to the Gulfport Police Department.
Authorities said the 56-year-old, who teaches at Greco Middle School in Temple Terrace, was intoxicated about 1:15 a.m. when he confronted the victim at her home near the intersection of Gray Street South and 11th Avenue South in Pinellas County.
Officers said the victim tried to call 911 on her cellphone but Pokorny grabbed it away from her. That’s when the victim pulled out a gun and fired three shots toward Pokorny.
Authorities said the victim was “fearing for her life” when she fired the gun.
Police said Pokorny ran from the home and was later found with the victim’s phone in his possession.
Pokorny was charged with tampering with a witness and violation of pretrial release and given a $35,000 bond.
According to the March arrest report, Pokorny admitted to the allegations that he battered his wife. It states:
“Def did strike the victim in the forehead with a cell phone and did struck (sic) the victim on top of the head with an open hand. Def also pushed the victim into a small book shelf one handed.”
He was released on a no-contact order and told not to communicate with his wife in any manner and that he must stay at least 500 feet away from her and from her residence, vehicle, place of employment or any place she is known to frequent.
According to Hillsborough County Public Schools, Pokorny was hired by the district in January 1996. He will not be allowed back on any school campus until his next course of action is determined, district officials told News Channel 8.
Hillsborough schools start Aug. 10 for the 2022-2023 school year.
Roger Futerman, a Tampa Bay criminal defense attorney who is not connected with the case, spoke about Florida’s what Pokorny is facing. He said:
“If you’re in your own home and someone’s breaking in, you have the right to defend yourself with deadly force.”
Futerman said Florida has strong self-defense rights. He explained:
“She’s got every right and that’s why she wasn’t arrested for firing a gun to use deadly force.”
According to Florida Statute 776.013:
“A person who is in a dwelling or residence in which the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat, and has the right to stand his or her ground and use or threaten to use (a) nondeadly force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force; or (b) Deadly force if he or she reasonable believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
Futerman said it’s a crime to violate a no-contact order, especially in a domestic case. The defense attorney noted:
“There are additional protections in your own home you have heightened levels of self-defense rights.”
Former high school and elementary school teacher arrested on allegations of sex crimes with young students
June 23, 2022
On Thursday, June 16, 2022, the Gilbert Police Department arrested former Higley High School teacher, 35-year-old Aaron Dunton after an investigation where it was alleged he had an inappropriate relationship with a student. Visit https://t.co/q3icVXoGla for the full release. pic.twitter.com/FccSOtUVeD
— Gilbert Police Dept. (@GilbertPolice) June 16, 2022
The alleged predator, identified as 35-year-old Aaron Dunton, was taken into custody on Thursday, June 16th, by Gilbert police after a former student made allegations against Dunton when he taught at Power Ranch Elementary School.
Authorities stated that the student was just 11-years-old at the time that Dunton allegedly committed sex crime against the minor in 2019.
The former teacher is facing four counts of aggravated assault, one count of witness tampering, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After being arrested, he was booked into the Maricopa County Jail.
According to his records, Dunton started working at Higley High School in July 2021 after he taught at Power Ranch Elementary School for the five previous school years.
Dunton was also a volunteer softball coach and assistant football coach. The Higley Unified School District (HUSD) released a statement that said, in part:
“We are extremely disappointed and troubled by this news. Please know that we take all allegations of employees misconduct very seriously and providing a safe learning environment is always a top priority for our district.”
Who Is Aaron Dunton From Higley High School? Former Teacher Arrested For Relationship With Student https://t.co/EFb9uIAZK5
— Storie Review (@storie_review) June 17, 2022
In response to these allegations, the Higley Unified Schools Governing Board will be launching an independent investigation surrounding the arrest of Dunton.
Dunton was arrested on allegations involving an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old student at Higley High School. He resigned from his position at Higley High School in April when the investigation first launched.
It was during that investigation that authorities uncovered the alleged inappropriate relationship with an 11-year-old student at Power Ranch Elementary.
During a board meeting on Wednesday, June 22nd, district leaders announced plans to hire a lawyer to open an investigation surrounding what the district new about Dunton’s alleged sex crimes. HUSD Board President Amy Kaylor said in a statement:
“The HUSD Governing Board, Dr. Foley, and the district administration remain extremely concerned about the allegations.”
This announcement to start an independent investigation comes after teachers said they did report Dunton’s alleged actions to school administrators at both Higley and Power Ranch nearly two dozen times, but no action was every taken. Kaylor added:
“We are very concerned about these accusations regarding this former employee. The district has hired an outside attorney to investigate and help our district in all of these matters.”
#BREAKING @HigleyDistrict announces plans to launch an independent investigation to look into claims made to district and school leaders about possible inappropriate contact with former teacher Aaron Dunton before his arrest last week.#News #AZ #Schools #Valley #12News
— Jonathan McCall (@JonathanMcCall) June 23, 2022
The district stated that it will be looking into when allegations were made, what school leaders were made aware of, and what actions were taken.
According to reports, before his employment with HUSD, he worked for six years at the University of Phoenix as an enrollment adviser and as a part-time coach at Kyrene School District from February 2011 – May 2015.
Dunton is married and has a young daughter. Some have criticized HUSD for only alerting Higley High School parents about him. One man said:
“I feel it should have been sent to all of Higley School District as the person being investigated also taught at Power Ranch Elementary. Why not make sure there isn’t more to know and offer counseling to anyone effected?”
The man added:
“The way the letter reads they make it sound like the teacher was a former teacher having a relationship with a student when the fact is he was teaching and coaching up until last week. This is important information for the community to know.”
Apparently, Dunton’s behavior was known among students at Higley High. One 16-year-old student said:
“I had him last year as a teacher and he was really weird. Everyone said he stared at girls. There has been so many girls reporting him to administration … they didn’t have proof, just hearsay.”
Gilbert police are encouraging any additional victims or witnesses to contact the department at 480-503-6500.
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Author: Cynthia Van Gaasbeck
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