Fruitland High principal accused of sexually assaulting employee on school property

Teresa Fabricius

Fruitland School District Superintendent Teresa Fabricius offered this statement in response to Principal Mike Fitch being criminally charged.
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Fruitland School District Superintendent Teresa Fabricius offered this statement in response to Principal Mike Fitch being criminally charged.

Fruitland High School’s principal, who is facing three misdemeanor charges, is accused of sexually assaulting and harassing a school employee from September to November last year, often on school property.

Mike Fitch has been on paid administrative leave since November, after Idaho State Police began investigating him. He was charged Friday with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and one count of patronizing a prostitute.

A review of the probable cause affidavit in the case, written by ISP detectives, outlines a slew of allegations made against Fitch by an employee at Fruitland High. The sexual battery charges stem from an incident in which Payette County prosecutors allege that Fitch took the woman’s hand and placed it on his groin, and another incident in which he allegedly touched the woman in a sexual way while at school, without her consent.

His charge for patronizing a prostitute stems from an incident in which prosecutors allege he offered to pay the woman money in exchange for sex. The offer to pay her came after she repeatedly declined to have a relationship with him, according to affidavits.

ISP detectives said the alleged victim claimed that Fitch sent her an unsolicited video of himself masturbating and a picture of his penis. On multiple occasions he allegedly sent her sexual messages through their work email accounts and instant messaging systems.

She told police that Fitch is one of the people who interviewed her before she started working at the school in 2018. The woman told detectives that at least two other employees at Fruitland High warned her that Fitch had “a reputation” for being inappropriate.

The probable cause affidavit filed Friday outlined several occasions in which Fitch allegedly approached the female employee at school, propositioning her and making sexual advances in her office, and once in the teachers’ break room. She also accused him of sending her “erotic stories” and random pornographic images from a website.

Fitch’s 2018-19 contract is valid through June 30, according to the school board. It lists his annual salary at about $77,600.

Since Fitch has been on leave, Fruitland Superintendent Teresa Fabricius has been serving as acting administrator at the school.

“The district is cooperating fully with officials and we take this situation very seriously,” Fabricius told the Statesman in an email on Friday. “Mr. Fitch has been out of the building since November 16 and he will remain out of the building while this matter is resolved.”

It’s unclear whether the alleged victim still works for the school.

Fitch had also served as the school’s longtime boys basketball coach, building the Grizzlies into a state powerhouse. In his 19 years as the head coach, he led Fruitland to 12 district championships and 14 state tournament appearances. He won four state titles, including in 2018, and is tied for the seventh-most boys basketball championships in state history.

The reigning 3A coach of the year was a week into practices for his 20th season before the school district placed him on leave. The Grizzlies (19-4) made it back to this week’s 3A state tournament as Idaho’s No. 1-ranked team. Fruitland opens its title defense against Snake River at 8 p.m. Thursday at Meridian High.

A Monday evening school board meeting in Fruitland that was initially set for 5 p.m. was later canceled.

Fitch’s next court appearance is set for 1:30 p.m. March 5 in Payette County.

Idaho Statesman reporter Mike Lycklama contributed to this report.
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Reporter Ruth Brown covers the criminal justice and correctional systems in Idaho. She focuses on breaking news, public safety and social justice. Prior to coming to the Idaho Statesman, she was a reporter at the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Bakersfield Californian and the Idaho Falls Post Register.