MOUNT VERNON — The contract termination hearing for suspended middle school teacher John Freshwater has been delayed — again.



Joshua Morrison: 740-397-5333 or and on Twitter, @


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21 Responses to “Freshwater hearing suspended again”

  1. drd

    No Sam, Ben Neilson testified he saw a mark on the other childs arm and it was similar to his mark on his arm. He even drew a picture of his mark and the other childs mark. As RBH stated this mark is consistant with a first or second degree “burn” according to the expert who testified.

  2. Sam Stickle

    Drd said: ‚ÄúI also believe the family went into the administration to talk about the incedent the next day. I never heard any testimony that they didn‚Äôt ‘permit’ anyone to look at the arm.‚Äù

    The following is from my article “Media Didn’t Tell Whole Story about ‘Settlement’”:

    The middle school principal, Bill White, testified last October that he was asked by Short to investigate Freshwater’s side of the story. White, however, was not permitted to look at the student’s arm. “At the point when Mr. Short gave me the pictures, he said the parents didn’t want anybody to know who they were,” White testified. “And other than going through a thousand arms at school, I wouldn’t have.”

  3. Sam Stickle


    RBH said: “Between his interview with HR OnCall and his testimony in the hearing Ben changed his story about the shape and size of the burn, but not the existence of one.”

    Ben Neilson testified that he did not see a burn on the arm of Zachary Dennis. He was very clear on that. (See my article “Second Student Tells of Seeing Accuser’s Arm without Burn.”)

    As far as him changing his story on any details of his testimony: This goes back to the issue of the improper way that HROC conducted their investigation. The interviews were not recorded and they did not take written statements from the witness—they didn’t even have the interviewees look at the handwritten notes to see if they were accurate. (See my article “Investigative Report: Did It Investigate Enough?”)

  4. RBH

    Sam Sticle wrote “No one has testified in the hearing, other than the Dennis family, of seeing a burn on the arm of Zachary.”

    That’s false. Ben Neilson testified that he saw a mark (which, having been caused by a high frequency/high voltage generating device is appropriately called a “burn”) on Zachary’s arm. Between his interview with HR OnCall and his testimony in the hearing Ben changed his story about the shape and size of the burn, but not the existence of one.

    Further, in hearing testimony and in a deposition for one of the federal suits two other students have sworn that Freshwater put marks in the shape of a cross on their arms. Again, “marks” on skin left by a high frequency/high voltage device like the Tesla coil are in fact at least first degree and possibly second degree burns, as the expert witness testified on October 30, 2008:

    “Shown the pictures of the marks on the arm earlier entered into evidence, Levy testified that his original reaction is that they are pictures of a second-degree burn, and that the marks are consistent with a BD10A having been used on the arm in the described manner, 2 passes in each direction, 10-12 hours preceding when the pictures were taken. Levy testified that it was his opinion that it was an electrical burn, and that the appearance would not have been significantly affected (nor would his opinion be affected) by knowing that the boy participated in hockey practice with goalie‚Äôs equipment between the occurrence of the burn and the taking of the pictures.”

    See here:

  5. Sam Stickle


    A lot would depend on why the evidence is missing. If the evidence was in the possession of the school board and they were intentionally withholding subpoenaed evidence, that would be favorable to Mr. Freshwater, that would possibly make it a Brady rights violation. We’ll have to wait and see what happens this Friday at the hearing.

    “Suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused who has requested it violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”

    —Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)

  6. woodyj

    The fact that another teacher has(d) a bible on their desk only indicates that the bible on the desk is only a minor issue in this case. in fact, it may just be an item used to further demonstrate mr freshwaters character

  7. whatev

    Actually I believe you are wrong. A student DID testify that he saw the mark on Zach’s arm the next day. It was one of Mr Freshwater’s witnesses.

  8. Paul

    I am not a Freshwater supporter, and I am sick of this also but….
    If he actually “burned a cross” into a student’s arm, and there is any truth to that, why isn’t he in jail right now? I’m pretty sure a law would have been broken.
    If the child’s parents believe this to be so, have they pushed for prosecution on this charge?
    Maybe I’m just not familiar with the details of this.
    Someone please educate me.

  9. Sam Stickle


    In case you are unfamiliar with the details from the hearing, let me explain some more about “Item #1.” The Dennis family has said that there was a burn on the arm of Zachary Dennis. But merely repeating the statement that there was a burn is not evidence. If you want to argue your point properly you need to mention a source for the claim or any actually evidence—perhaps you could point to the photos provided by the Dennis family. (The referee and the school board cannot just look at Zachary’s arm and tell if there ever was a burn—there is no sign of the alleged burn remaining.)

    No one has testified in the hearing, other than the Dennis family, of seeing a burn on the arm of Zachary. At least two students have testified that they did not see a burn on the arm of Zachary. When the Dennis family made the original complaint to the school they did not permit anyone to look at Zachary’s arm. The middle school principal testified that he was not even allowed to know the name of the student.

  10. Sam Stickle


    Item #1: You are using circular reasoning.

    Item #2: Which names are spelled incorrectly?

    Item #3: Mr. Freshwater’s constitutional right to have a Bible on his desk does not interfere with the rights of the students. (As evidence of Freshwater’s legal right to have the Bible on his desk, Freshwater pointed out that the school is allowing another teacher to have a Bible on her desk

  11. jt

    john, isn’t the school insurance covering the school??? i think so but i am probably wrong.
    if the school wins, they still really lose. and if freshwater wins he gets to take them back to a different court and rape them for every nickel he can get.
    both reputations have already been tarnished, so what’s next???
    it has been WELL over a year. if someone is missing evidence too bad. they have had OVER 400 days to get all this junk put together and they haven’t. i’m truly sorry that someone isn’t doing their job but that’s life. too bad. now let’s move on with it.

  12. Bill


    the link you provided is as inaccurate as any article i have read so far regarding this case. 1st, you want evidence that he burned a cross into a kids arm. How about the cross that was burned into his arm? is that not evidence enough. 2nd, get the spelling of the names correct. It is just pathetic. 3rd. You state that he has a constitutional right to have his bible on his desk. What about the non christian student having the right to have an education not persuaded by someones religous veiws.

    While we may not agree on this, get your facts straight.

  13. jt

    who truly cares about this any more?????
    not even the judicial system in mt. vernon is this slow.

  14. M Barkhurst

    What could possibly further these proceedings is beyond belief. It almost sounds as if it is being used to increase the cost to the school board, because there is very little doubt that Freshwater’s fees are being paid by a third party, since the fees are surely beyond his means. By now all of the attorneys investigations into this case should have been completed long ago and if only a week was granted it sounds as if the referee may also be tired of the delays. Freshwater is becoming very tiresome to all in our community, and any further delays should no longer be allowed.

  15. John C. Davidson

    Stretching this misadvenure out only keeps this travesty in the spotlight and makes lawyers wealthier. But, if they don’t hurry, the money won’t be worth anything.

    This sort of thing goes on all over this country and emancipated from Washington

  16. my2centsworth

    I think Mr. Freshwater should take in all the stray cats, & teach them the Bible, & that would solve two of Mt.Vernon’s major problems.