North Branch school boss addresses YouTube video
NORTH BRANCH — North Branch Area Schools leaders spoke out Monday about what they call a “disturbing YouTube video” concerning a former school employee’s alleged inappropriate conduct with a minor in Florida.
The former employee was hired in 2000 as a counselor in the North Branch school district, later working as a teacher there before retiring in 2020. He is accused by the YouTube TV Channel “Protect The Innocent” of texting whom he thought was a 14-year-old boy, stating he’d like to engage in oral sex with the teenager. A woman narrating the video episode, covering much of her face with a black bandanna, also shows copies of what she claims are electronic messages between the man and her – while she posed as the 14-year-old.
One message appears to show the man asking if he can perform a different type of sex act with the boy. James D. Fish, superintendent of the North Branch district, wrote a letter to North Branch parents and community members on Monday, stating the district never received a complaint that the man “engaged in any inappropriate relations with any student.”
The 30-minute, 37-second YouTube video was uploaded about a month ago on the Protect The Innocent (P.T.I.) channel. It shows the bandanna-wearing woman knocking on the door of a home saying she is trying to confront and “expose” the man, whom her printed documents identify as a former educator and counselor in the North Branch school district.
The video is listed as Episode 42 on the Protect The Innocent YouTube channel, which counts 102,000 subscribers. The title of the video states the 64-year-old man “goes on the run after seeing us at his doorstep.” The bandanna-clad woman is seen driving a Dodge minivan during much of the video, stopping with a male passenger at the home of the man she said she had been sending electronic messages to – while she posed as the boy.
A man that the woman claims is the sender of the messages to the teenager drives a vehicle away from the home, pursued by the minivan driven by the woman and carrying a male passenger. The woman and man eventually quit chasing the man, claiming he “was nearly running people off the road in order to escape P.T.I.”
The woman eventually turns over documents to Marion County Sheriff’s Office personnel who say they’ll investigate the case. As of press time, The Advertiser could not determine if the former North Branch school employee has been charged with any crime as a result of any investigation.
Fish said the subject of the video received two written reprimands while working at North Branch Area Schools. Fish’s letter noted that a male student in 2014 complained that the man put his hand on the student’s head and gave it “a gentle push.” Fish wrote that the former employee confirmed placing his hand on the student’s head “in a way to get the student’s attention.”
In 2008, the former employee was reprimanded for “insubordinate conduct and disregard for job duties in failing to follow a directive to conduct extracurricular activities outside of the school day relating to district Forensics and Model UN clubs.” Fish wrote in his Monday letter to parents and community members that he communicated “due to the misinformation currently being shared on local social media.” “The district encourages anyone with any allegations of inappropriate conduct by this former employee while employed at North Branch Area Schools to immediately contact local law enforcement,” Fish wrote.
Fish began working as North Branch superintendent on July 1, 2016. He worked in other capacities in the school district prior to that. Fish stressed that “at no time did any individual contact me or to my knowledge any district administrators regarding inappropriate conduct by this former employee,” with the exception of the two reprimands contained in the man’s personnel file.
“North Branch Area Schools will always thoroughly investigate every report of misconduct brought to the district’s attention,” stated Fish. The woman who stated she founded P.T.I. indicated she had sent messages to the former North Branch school employee for almost a year.