Why was the teacher accused of slapping a student's behind, charged with battery? ABC57 speaks with an expert

NOW: Why was the teacher accused of slapping a student’s behind, charged with battery? ABC57 speaks with an expert

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- ABC57 is digging deeper into the charge filed against a teacher who slapped a student’s butt.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor filed a battery charge against John Glenn High School teacher and head football coach John Barron, but many are wondering why it wasn’t sexual battery. 

The charge comes after a female student came forward to Walkerton Police, saying Barron would touch her butt on a continual basis, even after being asked to stop. 

To understand why Barron isn’t facing a sex-related charge even after touching a female student’s butt, ABC57 spoke with Matt Kubacki, a prosecutor in Johnson County, Indiana for some insight. 

“At the end of the day, a prosecutor's job is to file charges that they can prove,” says Matt Kubacki, Johnson County Prosecutor.

Kubacki says it’s a fine, tricky line when it comes to filing charges in cases that seem sexual in nature but are hard to prove. 

“These types of cases are ones that really do carry very difficult conversations about what we’re going to file, what we’re not going to file, and even if I do file something, is that going to stick and hold up?” Kubacki explains.

According to court documents, John Barron says he does not recall slapping his female student’s behind on November 30.

According to prosecuting documents, Barron told investigators if he did, it wasn’t meant to be sexual. 

The intention of the slap is what Kubacki advises was most likely a key piece in determining Barron's battery charge, rather than a sex-related charge. 

“When you’re trying to figure out someone’s intent, it’s really hard to do,” Kubacki explains. “Rarely do we have a situation where they have a diary or something that says ‘I’m intending to do x, y, and z.’” 

Kubacki says evidence is another key piece. 

If Barron were facing a sex-related charge, in Kubacki's experience, it would likely be harder to prove to a jury. 

The potential evidence mentioned in the probable cause affidavit includes a witness who heard the slap and security footage allegedly showing the aftermath of what could have been another slap on top of the victim’s accusations of being touched on a continual basis even after asking it to stop. 

Kubacki says law enforcement also considers the consequences and how it could set the standard if a situation like this warrants a person to become a registered sex offender. 

“Is that the type of situation where we want someone to be a registered sex offender with a felony that stays on their record? That’s the type of thing that we start to think about as a prosecutor, and really as a society,” says Kubacki.

Kubacki says bottom line, prosecutors don’t want to file a charge they can’t prove, which would ultimately put a victim through another difficult situation, despite how it may look to the public in this case with a teacher accused of abusing his power. 

“Often times there is going to be that disconnect between what we as a public think should happen and what actually can happen in court and can be proven,” Kubacki says.

St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter, who filed the charge, declined to speak about how he determined the battery charge as it’s an ongoing case. 

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