Fruitland High School principal and boys basketball coach Mike Fitch was charged Friday with three misdemeanors, stemming from allegations of sexual harassment of a female staff member at the school, court documents show.
Fitch has been on leave from Fruitland since late last year. At the time, the Idaho State Police confirmed to The Idaho Statesman that Fitch was the subject of an investigation, but declined to say why.
According to reports from state police investigators obtained Monday by Idaho Education News, an adult female employee at Fruitland High School told police in November that Fitch had repeatedly propositioned her for sex, tried to physically force her into engaging in sexual activities and sent her unsolicited lewd messages on a work email account.
The woman told police that “Mr. Fitch came by her office one time and stood in close proximity to her and took her ponytail and tried to force her head to his groin area,” the police report says. “She believed he was trying to get her to perform oral sex on him,” the report says.
In separate incidents, the woman told police that Fitch “placed her hand on his erect penis.” The reports also allege that Fitch would repeatedly “pull his trouser’s taught and show her he had an erection [sic].”
The woman told police that Fitch asked her to engage in lewd acts at school, one time asking her to “meet in the band room for sex,” and that he would send her messages telling her about his sexual needs, sent her a picture of his penis and videos of himself masturbating.
He also propositioned her for sex, she said, and at one point told her that he had $300 and asked the woman if she knew what he should do with it. “Mr. Fitch then came by her office and patted his pocket and reminded her he had the money,” the police report says. “…She believed his intent was to get her to commit to engaging in sex with him to earn the $300.”
At one point, the woman told police, she did send a photograph of her lower body, in her underwear to Fitch. But, the police reports say that “after approximately a month, she realized the situation was spiraling out of control,” and she stopped communicating with Fitch.
The woman told police that at least two other school employees warned her that Fitch had a reputation of engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Attempts to reach Fitch for comment on the allegations were unsuccessful on Monday.
The charges filed against Fitch include two counts of sexual battery, which is defined in Idaho State Statute as “any willful physical contact, over or under the clothing, with the intimate parts of any person, when the physical contact is done without consent and with the intent to degrade, humiliate or demean the person touched or with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion or sexual desires of the actor or any other person.”
Sexual battery is a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a $2,000 fine.
Solicitation of prostitution, according to state statutes, includes paying or offering to pay another person for “engaging in an act of sexual conduct or sexual contact.” It is also a misdemeanor.
Court documents indicate that Fitch was served with a summons to appear at the Payette County Courthouse on March 5 for his arraignment on the misdemeanor charges.
In a statement on Friday, Fruitland superintendent Teresa Fabricius said that the school district is aware of the charges against Fitch, who has been out of the building since Nov. 16. She did not reply to emailed questions about the status of Fitch’s employment, but said that Fitch “will remain out of the building while this matter is resolved.”
“The district is cooperating fully with officials and we take this situation very seriously,” the statement said.
The Fruitland school board had called a special meeting set for Monday, Feb. 25, with the only item on the agenda an executive session where board members could discuss personnel matters, but Fabricius said that meeting had been canceled on Monday afternoon.
In an email to many members of the media, Fabricius directed follow-up questions on the investigation to the Payette County Prosecutor’s office.
Fabricius is acting as the administrator at Fruitland High school in Fitch’s absence.
“I want to assure you that education at Fruitland High School is progressing as usual, and our teachers and staff are working hard to ensure that students are learning in a stable, supportive and positive environment,” her statement said.