Trial starts for ex-York Tech teacher accused of touching students
A former vo-tech teacher accused of inappropriately touching two students on separate occasions in the storage room of the school store was "bighearted" and perhaps stupid, his defense attorney told jurors.
Kevin Nagle, 44, of McSherrystown, is standing trial this week in York County Court on charges he touched the genitals of two male students, both teens, in November 2016.
Deputy prosecutor Teresa Jauregui told jurors during her opening statement Tuesday, July 17, that "neither boy consented to the touching of their genitals."
But defense attorney Terrence McGowan said his client was merely measuring the boys' inseams to help them find pants that fit.
"Kevin is a fastidious dresser. ... Kevin takes this stuff seriously," McGowan told jurors in his opening statement. "That's where he put himself in a vulnerable position. That's where he was stupid."
Nagle managed the school store, called the Spart Mart, and taught business classes at the York County School of Technology, including a course called Your Employability Skills. McGowan described that as a "dress for success" class in which Nagle taught students how to look good and how to impress prospective employers.
Cashing in? The attorney claims the two boys made the allegations to "cash in."
"We're here today because Kevin Nagle is a bighearted, kind, caring individual" who wanted to help the teens, McGowan said.
York Area Regional Police filed charges of institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and indecent assault against Nagle after York Tech alerted police to allegations made by two students, both 17 at the time.
One of the two alleged victims, who has since graduated from York Tech, testified Tuesday afternoon that he went to the Spart Mart on Nov. 11, 2016, to buy a shirt and that Nagle offered to fit him for pants.
The teen agreed, even though he was not wearing underwear. He told jurors that Nagle twice touched his testicles while measuring the teen's inseam on each leg, and he said it happened in the store's storage room.
The alleged victim also said Nagle told him he needed a "trim," meaning his pubic hair.
On cross-examination, McGowan went after inconsistencies between the young man's testimony Tuesday and what he said when testifying at Nagle's preliminary hearing in March 2017.
Inconsistencies: The alleged victim couldn't remember how much time elapsed before he reported the incident to school officials and couldn't remember earlier details he testified to, such as the fact that his pants twice were pulled down or that Nagle left the storage room three times during the fitting.
He also said on Tuesday that Nagle touched his testicles, but at the preliminary hearing he said the former teacher touched his penis.
"And you're as sure about that as you are about the rest of your testimony?" McGowan repeatedly asked when the alleged victim's testimony differed from what he had previously said.
McGowan also got the young man to admit that he could have left any time he wanted, that his mother was right outside the storage room and that Nagle actually did measure his inseam.
"So this wasn't about sex, was it?" McGowan asked.
"No," the young man replied.
McGowan also got the young man to confirm that Nagle didn't appear to be aroused after touching the teen's testicles.
Under questioning by Jauregui, the alleged victim said he didn't make up what happened.
He is expected to return to the witness stand Wednesday morning to answer more questions.
Director testifies: Also taking the witness stand Tuesday was David Thomas, administrative director of York Tech.
He said Nagle submitted his resignation in November 2016 to take another job in Adams County before the allegations were made. Nagle gave 60 days' notice, according to Thomas.
Thomas said school officials immediately suspended Nagle when the allegations surfaced and paid him for that 60 days until he was no longer an employee of the school.
Thomas testified that Nagle's duties didn't include fitting students for clothing or helping them dress or dealing with hygiene issues.
Thomas said teachers aren't supposed to assist students with hygiene issues "because that would be extremely inappropriate."
Those issues are more properly dealt with by the school nurse, he said.
John Stearns, one of York Tech's three academy principals, testified that on Oct. 21, 2016, he and another official talked to Nagle about allowing students who were shopping in the school store to pick whatever size uniforms they wanted.
"We stressed that he should not measure students. ... Don't touch the students," Stearns told jurors.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.