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Ex-Tarpon Springs High resource officer faces new accusation of misconduct at school

TARPON SPRINGS — A former Tarpon Springs High School teacher says a school resource officer accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student propositioned the teacher for oral sex at the school.

And the student says she felt the officer used his position of authority to unduly influence her.

Those new details emerged Wednesday as the Tarpon Springs Police Department closed its internal affairs investigation into the matter — five days after the officer, Cpl. Michael Kazouris, resigned his position.

Kazouris, who was the leader of the department's school resource officer unit, resigned Friday, saying "the frivolous allegations and one-sided investigation against me have made it impossible for me to return to this department."

Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Barbara Templeton defended the agency's action last week, calling it "a thorough, fair and objective investigation."

Kazouris, 36, was put on administrative leave in November after police received a complaint that he might have been involved with a 17-year-old Tarpon Springs High student he supervised.

In February, Kazouris was cleared of any criminal charges when police determined that the sexual relationship began after the young woman turned 18 and had graduated.

The young woman, who was an assistant to Kazouris, is not being named by the St. Petersburg Times because she was underage at the time she said she came under his influence.

Templeton said the internal affairs investigation was closed as undetermined after Kazouris' resignation. The report was not completed because Kazouris, through his attorney, declined to be interviewed and did not take the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Kazouris' attorney, Jerry Theophilopoulos, said Wednesday evening that he had not yet seen the report and declined to comment.

Former Tarpon Springs High teacher Sara Buckley said she engaged in "mutual flirtatious banter" with Kazouris during August and September 2007. But, Buckley said in the report, Kazouris' comments began to make her feel "uncomfortable."

Buckley, who taught at the school during the 2007-08 year, said that on one occasion after school had let out for the day, Kazouris "asked me if I would like to go in my classroom and suck his d---," the report said.

Buckley said that after she told Kazouris his behavior was "inappropriate," he propositioned her again one or two more times.

The Police Department approached Buckley during its investigation after another school resource officer reported hearing of the incident from a high school administrator.

The report also told of how the young woman, who graduated in 2008, said she was still a student when Kazouris began complimenting her physical appearance and telling her about problems he was having with his wife.

During the investigation, The Police Department asked the young woman if she felt Kazouris used his position "to manipulate you into an intimate relationship?"

The young woman "answered yes," according to the report, and said she felt Kazouris "was grooming her for a relationship after she graduated."

A detective who handled the criminal investigation said the young woman told him "her reason for having sex with Corporal Kazouris was that he was a police officer." The detective called Kazouris' behavior "predatory."

Telephone records show Kazouris and the young woman exchanged 5,359 calls and text messages over a five months. The report shows that the two texted one another 117 times on May 30; on May 31, 176 times. During the first three days of June, 592 calls or texts were exchanged.

Kazouris, who joined the department in 2004, made $48,161 annually. According to his personnel file, he was an officer with Pinellas County Schools Police from 1997 to 2004.

Rita Farlow can be reached at (727) 445-4162 or farlow@sptimes.com.

Ex-Tarpon Springs High resource officer faces new accusation of misconduct at school 03/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 10:03pm]
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