Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco-Hernando law academy fires three over handling of case of instructor who had a sexually explicit video of a student

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco-Hernando Community College has cleaned house at its law enforcement academy following an internal investigation into a part-time instructor who had a sexually explicit video of a female student.

The college said its investigation revealed, among other things, that sexual relationships between part-time instructors and students at the academy were not unusual, that officials at the academy in Dade City were aware of the problem and they did nothing about it.

PHCC fired three academy officials: Criminal Justice Training Center director Dan Griffith, program coordinator Jim Lefevre and part-time coordinator of the evening program Greg Schnake.

Interim officials have been appointed, and the school said it will immediately begin a search for permanent replacements.

After an inquiry from the St. Petersburg Times in June, the college revealed that it had recently fired part-time academy instructor Jeffrey Gattuso. The official reason was inappropriate use of college computers.

A male student in Gattuso's class used a classroom computer to check his own e-mail during a class break and found Gattuso's personal e-mail account on the screen. It contained an explicit video showing a female student whom the male student recognized.

He forwarded it from Gattuso's e-mail account to another one to preserve it. A week later, another instructor noticed the student seemed upset. The student said he felt intimidated by Gattuso, who had reprimanded him harshly for a minor uniform violation. That's when he mentioned the video.

Gattuso was confronted about the incident but did not admit anything, the college said. But based on information provided by the student — including the e-mail forwarding trail that traced the video back to Gattuso's Hotmail account — Gattuso was terminated on the spot.

In early July, the same week the allegations at the academy came to light, Gattuso also was fired from his job as a state prison guard. He had worked as a sergeant at Polk Correctional Institution. Department of Corrections officials said during a shift on April 9 in which Gattuso was in command of the control room, he failed to reset the fence alarms and left areas unguarded.

He began working for the Corrections Department in 2000, first at Florida State Prison, then at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution. In 2002, according to his termination letter, he received a written reprimand for conduct unbecoming a public employee, and in 2007 was suspended for 10 days for negligence.

Gattuso is the brother of former Pasco sheriff's Deputy Robert Scott Gattuso, the subject of numerous internal investigations during his 20-year career. Scott Gattuso was fired once by a previous sheriff but appealed and was reinstated. In one investigation from 2005, he was accused of filing a false insurance claim on a personal vehicle. His former wife told the Times that Jeffrey Gattuso was involved in the scam. Scott Gattuso was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

PHCC's investigation into the sex video spanned four months. The results were released this week. Among the findings:

• Program staff members were aware that sexual relationships between part-time instructors and cadets were not unusual in the academy but they took no action to address the issue.

• Program staff members mishandled allegations regarding Gattuso's inappropriate conduct with a female cadet in a previous Law Enforcement Academy class. Instead of following standard college policy, Griffith placed Gattuso on a "secret probation." This disciplinary action was not documented or reported to college administrators.

• Program staff members failed to fully cooperate in the investigation by withholding pertinent information in the initial stages. After the discovery of the video and termination of Gattuso, a perfunctory investigation that included interviews with cadets in the Law Enforcement Academy was conducted without notifying college administrators. These interviews were conducted without guidance by the college's administration or attorney, and information gathered in the interviews was not properly recorded or filed.

The college also said that the matter has prompted it to begin reviewing, updating and revising all program procedures, including personnel policies and the Law Enforcement and Corrections Academy cadet manual.

"It is clear that there have been problems associated with the former administration of the law enforcement and corrections programs," PHCC spokeswoman Lucy Miller said in a statement. "New leadership at the academy will re-emphasize the importance of adherence to college policies and procedures and the need for the utmost professionalism and integrity of the program."

Pasco-Hernando law academy fires three over handling of case of instructor who had a sexually explicit video of a student 10/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]