Ag teacher accused of drowning nuisance raccoons won't face charges
OCALA, FL (AP) - An agriculture teacher accused of drowning raccoons in front of students won't face charges.
The Ocala Star-Banner reports that Assistant State Attorney Toby Hunt determined Dewie Brewton didn't intend to torture or torment the "nuisance" animals.
Brewton was removed from the classroom and later retired after videos of the animals being drowned were posted on social media.
Investigators said he told them that he suspected the animals were killing chickens his class was raising. Once trapped, he said he couldn't shoot them because guns aren't allowed on school property and bludgeoning them would be cruel.
Hunt noted that a jury recently acquitted a man charged with animal cruelty after cutting off the tails of four kittens with rusty scissors.
Brewton announced his retirement on May 24 in a letter to Forest High School officials. He had been with Marion County Public Schools for 31 years.
Brewton had been on administrative leave pending the outcome of a school district investigation. Brewton's retirement ends the district investigation, but schools spokesman Kevin Christian says law enforcement is still investigating.
In a statement from the school district prior to Brewton's retirement, said "regardless of the investigative outcomes, Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier is recommending termination."
"Marion County Public Schools is appalled at the actions of an agri-science teacher accused of killing nuisance animals in front of students earlier this week," the statement read. "Marion County's education standards - in fact, Florida's education standards - do not include activities for the destruction of live animals, nuisance or not. While law enforcement determines whether this teacher's actions were legal or not, his actions before students are entirely unacceptable and cause us great concern."
Christian says students had complained that multiple raccoons were drowned because the animals were a nuisance to the school's agriculture program.
One of the students captured a 14-second cell phone video showing a group of students filling a tub of water using a hose and later keeping a trapped raccoon submerged.
An alumni group for the school’s FFA club posted support for Brewton on Facebook, describing him as a teacher who worked hard for his students and who cared for the agriculture industry.
According to the school's website, Brewton has been the school's agriculture-education adviser since 2006.