CHAMPION SCHOOLS Athletic director gets court date in fondling

The girl, who is a junior at the high school, made the complaint.
WARREN -- The Champion school district athletic director, who's been on paid administrative leave since January, will return to court next month on charges accusing him of fondling a female student.
George Carmichael, 59, of Dennis Drive, Cortland, was secretly indicted earlier this week by a grand jury in Trumbull County on a charge of gross sexual imposition. He pleaded innocent Friday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court and was released after posting bond.
Thomas Wrenn, an assistant prosecutor, said Carmichael is accused of fondling the student, 16, in December 2002.
Neither Carmichael nor his attorney could be reached.
Complaint in January
Carmichael, a 29-year school district employee, has been on paid administrative leave since early January, shortly after the girl, who is a junior at the high school, complained.
School district officials have said that the township police department investigated and turned the information over to the prosecutor's office.
He is set to return to court April 21.
Wrenn said the charge carries a six-to-18-month sentence and a maximum $5,000 fine upon conviction.
Pamela Hood, school district superintendent, expects the issue to be discussed at the school board's regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.
"The board has scheduled an executive session to talk with legal counsel in regard to the newest development," she said.
She didn't know what, if any, action the board may take.
"I placed him on administrative leave for two reasons," Hood said. "One was to protect the rest of the students at the high school with him out of the district."
Fairness factor
The second reason was in fairness to Carmichael, the superintendent said, because he hadn't been charged at that time.
Hood said she disciplined Carmichael in November after a staff member complained of inappropriate physical contact from Carmichael. The athletic director was issued a written reprimand, she said.