Sunday, October 21, 2018
Public safety

Sheriff: Officer at Carwise Middle retires amid sexual harassment investigation

A school resource officer and deputy with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office retired Tuesday amid allegations that he sexually harassed a female employee at Carwise Middle School while on duty.

The Sheriff’s Office received a letter on Oct. 1, which detailed two incidents alleged to have happened in September between the employee and Deputy Bernard D’Agostino, 52. He opted to retire when the agency opened an investigation and informed him he would be assigned to regular patrol duty, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The first incident happened on Sept. 17, the letter said, when D’Agostino allegedly walked up behind the employee, placing his hands on her hips without her permission. On Sept. 26, the deputy walked up behind the same woman, who alleged in the letter that he compared a banana, which he offered to her, to male genitals.

READ THE GRADEBOOK: The talk of Florida education

"Deputy D’Agostino then asked the school employee if she would like a ‘bent one or a straight one,’ insinuating the bananas were (genitals)," the Sheriff’s Office said. "After making the statement, Deputy D’Agostino laughed and continued to make inappropriate comments to the school employee, while handing her the banana."

The allegations were confirmed by witnesses, the Sheriff’s Office said, adding that D’Agostino was immediately removed from his post at the Palm Harbor school when the letter was received.

The letter arrived on the 20th anniversary of the day D’Agostino was hired by the Sheriff’s Office.

In interviews with investigators, the deputy said he could not remember the first alleged incident. He admitted the second, but said he did not intend to compare the fruit to genitals, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The agency could not immediately provide information about D’Agostino’s disciplinary history with the Sheriff’s Office. D’Agostino could not immediately be reached for comment.

School district spokesperson Lisa Wolf said the district will work with the Sheriff’s Office to find a replacement school resource officer for Carwise.

Contact Megan Reeves at [email protected] Follow @mareevs.

Comments

Woman, 20, killed by falling palm tree on Egmont Key

ST. PETERSBURG — A 20-year-old woman died Saturday afternoon at Egmont Key Park when a palm tree fell on her, according to Hillsborough deputies.Isabel Melendez was lying in a hammock about 4 p.m. on the island, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Offi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Homicide victim found lying off Dale Mabry/ Busch is 34-year-old man, deputies say

Homicide victim found lying off Dale Mabry/ Busch is 34-year-old man, deputies say

TAMPA — A homicide victim found lying alongside Dale Mabry Highway and Busch Boulevard on Friday afternoon has been identified as Michael Andrew Montalbano, 34, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said.Investigators said only that Montalb...
Updated: 10 hours ago
CrossFit worker, 16, stabbed during robbery attempt outside Tarpon Springs gym

CrossFit worker, 16, stabbed during robbery attempt outside Tarpon Springs gym

TARPON SPRINGS — A Spring Hill teen has been arrested in the stabbing of another teen during a robbery attempt outside a gym where the victim worked.Dedson Hallon Suas, 17, faces a charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and attempte...
Published: 10/20/18
Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

Drunk driver hits 11 vehicles on I-275, including state trooper's car. No one hurt

ST. PETERSBURG — A drunk driver collided with 11 vehicles along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 275 before he was arrested as he was stopped in traffic after exiting into downtown, the Florida Highway Patrol said.No one one was injured in th...
Published: 10/20/18
Romano: Has ‘stand your ground’ made Florida more tolerant of deadly force?

Romano: Has ‘stand your ground’ made Florida more tolerant of deadly force?

In another era, in another state, the video might be too unsettling to watch. A suspected shoplifter is looking for a way to slip past a Lakeland store owner who is holding a gun. The shoplifter gets one hand on the door at the same time the store o...
Published: 10/20/18
Woman, 25, faces murder charge in Tampa shooting, stabbing death

Woman, 25, faces murder charge in Tampa shooting, stabbing death

TAMPA — A 25-year-old Brandon woman was arrested on Thursday in connection with the Sept. 30 murder of Justin Heilig in Hyde Park, according to Tampa police.Melissa McNutt faces charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery, police said.Heilig, 34...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Lakeland commissioner charged with murder in shooting of suspected shoplifter

Lakeland commissioner charged with murder in shooting of suspected shoplifter

LAKELAND — A Lakeland city commissioner surrendered Friday to face a second-degree murder charge in the Oct. 3 fatal shooting of a suspected shoplifter at a military surplus store.Michael Dunn, who has served on the City Commission since January, arr...
Published: 10/19/18
Updated: 10/20/18
Hillsborough deputies seek white SUV in homicide investigation

Hillsborough deputies seek white SUV in homicide investigation

TAMPA — Detectives are looking for a white 4-door Dodge Journey SUV that they believe is connected to the homicide investigation of a 24-year-old man found dead Friday.Witnesses said they saw the vehicle driving away from the apartment complex at 850...
Published: 10/19/18
After a harrowing night, this Pinellas cop backs body cameras: ‘They can’t lie’

After a harrowing night, this Pinellas cop backs body cameras: ‘They can’t lie’

INDIAN SHORES — Officer Matthew Holm shined a flashlight at the oncoming car, the bright beam cutting through the early morning darkness in this sleepy beach town. He motioned for the driver to pull over. Instead, the car accelerated right at him.Hol...
Published: 10/19/18
Man dies in Spring Hill subdivision swimming pool

Man dies in Spring Hill subdivision swimming pool

SPRING HILL — A man died in his swimming pool Friday, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators say he likely drowned.The incident happened at a house on Botanical Drive in the Regency Oaks subdivision northwest of U.S. 19 and ...
Published: 10/19/18