- Parker Perry Staff Writer
The Indian Lake school superintendent accused of child rape has been fired.
The board of education voted Monday to fire Patrick O’Donnell, who had worked as a superintendent in the district for seven years. He has been charged with rape-child under 13, sexual battery and gross sexual imposition. O’Donnell has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his trial is scheduled to start Dec. 6.
Investigators have said the alleged rapes occurred over a three-year-period and involve a single child who’s now 13. That child isn’t a student at Indian Lake and was known to him, according to police.
The board’s decision was issued after a five-day termination hearing where a referee appointed by the Ohio Department of Education recommended the school board wait for the criminal case to conclude before firing him.
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Indian Lake issued a statement on its website and a district spokeswoman declined to further comment.
”Board members reject the analysis and conclusions contained in the referee’s report and recommendation, including but not limited to his recommendation that the board not proceed with termination of O’Donnell’s employment contract at this time,” the Indian Lake statement says.
The O’Donnells declined to comment at this time.
State referee Robert Harrelson said in his written recommendation the district should wait to see if he is convicted before firing him, even though the charges against O’Donnell are serious.
“Quite possibly, the board has acted prematurely in pursuing the termination of Mr. O’Donnell for the sole reason he was arrested and charged with this crime,” the recommendation says. “Instead, the board had the option to place Mr. O’Donnell on paid or unpaid administrative leave pending the resolution of the criminal matter.”
Ohio law allows the school board to reject the findings of the referee, the district’s statement says.
“Based on the board’s findings of facts, the board resolves that O’Donnell’s contract of employment with Indian Lake Schools is terminated, effective immediately,” the statement says.