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Father accused of punching teacher aide sues

The man accused of punching a teacher's assistant at Lakewood Ranch High School sued school officials Wednesday.

The lawsuit came about three weeks after deputies arrested Dave Swafford on a battery charge for punching teacher's assistant Deondrick Mathis in the face in a classroom. Swafford said Mathis had behaved inappropriately toward Swafford's daughter, a student.

School officials investigated and reported days later that the allegation was totally false, fabricated by the girl. Manatee County sheriff's deputies also investigated and did not pursue criminal charges against Mathis.

But Swafford's attorney, Ron Kurpiers II of St. Petersburg, claims school officials covered up for Mathis by destroying or altering evidence.

The lawsuit follows a Feb. 2 letter to the School Board in which Kurpiers demanded a $5-million settlement.

John Bowen, the School Board attorney, said the lawsuit "is so riddled with factual and legal inaccuracies it's almost comical."

According to the lawsuit, Swafford's daughter was punished at school Jan. 19, a Thursday, for a prank involving another student. The punishment entailed spending part of her day in a classroom overseen by Mathis.

Swafford's daughter alleges that Mathis made sexual comments to her and touched her inappropriately about 2 p.m. that day, after class was dismissed.