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Principal Fired Over Alleged Locker-Room Sex Scandal

June 5, 1996

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A high school principal accused of covering up an alleged locker-room sex attack to preserve the football team’s playoff hopes was fired Tuesday.

Horace Jones, who in the 1970s played professional football for the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks, will be offered a teaching job, as will four other staffers also fired over the incident.

Also fired Tuesday were two assistant principals, football coach David Wilson and weight-training coach Kevin Sanders. All will be offered teaching jobs, said Escambia County School Superintendent William Maloy.

Eight Pensacola High School students, most of them on the football team, were charged in April with forcing a 15-year-old girl, enrolled in special education classes, to perform a sexual act with them in a restroom and a locker room at the school’s stadium last October.

The grand jury that indicted the students said Jones tried to cover up the sex allegations to avoid disrupting a winning football season.

Jones did not report the matter to his superiors or to police until almost a month later, and allegedly threatened to fire a guidance counselor who wanted to report the matter.

But Maloy said he decided to fire Jones more because of his administrative decisions leading up to the attack than the allegations of a cover-up.

``We’re talking about good people,″ Maloy said. ``Sometimes good people who do good things make some very bad decisions.″

Maloy acknowledged that Jones waited too long to report the case, but he characterized the allegations of a cover-up as speculation.

Maloy said Jones made two judgment errors, including putting a coach in charge of an in-school suspension program during the time he was also performing coaching duties.

The girl was serving an in-school suspension for skipping class; the suspended students sat in the stadium unattended while the coach in charge was in the weight room. The girl then went to the women’s restroom where the initial sexual activity allegedly took place.

The football team won its final three regular season games and a district championship before losing in the first round of the state playoffs.

The students were charged with lewd and lascivious assault on a child under 16. Their trial is set for July 8. If convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

All five staffers will receive letters of reprimand for their permanent files and the matter will be referred to the state’s Professional Practices Board, which could suspend or revoke their teaching certificates.

The three administrators and two coaches did not return telephone calls Tuesday. Jones has declined comment.

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