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Florida school principal accused of rape


Anyone accused of rape in Florida faces serious penalties if convicted. In addition to a possible prison sentence, the accused will likely be required to register as a sex offender, giving them a lifelong stigma that will make finding a job or even an apartment all but impossible in many communities. When the accused is a respected member of the community, the mere accusation can mean the end of a career. These are the possible consequences now being faced by the principal of a Broward County charter school. The man is facing a rape charge arising out an alleged incident involving a fellow school employee.

According to the allegations of the Broward County Sheriff's Office, the alleged incident took place on school grounds. The alleged victim claims the accused had sexual relations with her, without her consent, last October. She did not report the alleged rape until February 21 of this year, however. She told the Sheriff's Office that she did not come forward right away because she feared she might lose her job if she did so.

Those facing felony charges of forcible sexual assault do have rights. These include the right to an attorney and the right to confront and cross-examine their accusers. False charges of rape do occur, and it is the duty of defense counsel to scrutinize the evidence and point out all inconsistencies that could give rise to reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.

Sometimes the accused is the victim of an incorrect eyewitness identification. Sometimes the victim consents to the sexual relations but regrets the decision later and files a false rape charge. And sometimes disgruntled co-workers use a false accusation as a way of getting back at the accused. In many rape cases the only witnesses to the alleged crime are the alleged victim and the accused, leading to a classic "he said-she said" scenario, which can leave the jury with reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused.

Source: WPTV.com, "Peter Nicholson: Flagler High School principal arrested on rape charge in Broward County," David Gould, March 6, 2014

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Andrew M. Coffey has been recognized as a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer by the Florida Bar. Certification is the highest level of recognition by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.

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