What is sexual violence?
A brief court hearing Monday was held to discuss Fruitland High School Principal Mike Fitch’s upcoming trial on three misdemeanor charges related to accusations of sexual battery and harassment of a school employee.
Fitch is charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and one count of “patronizing a prostitute,” a charge that stems from his alleged offer to pay the woman for sex. He has pleaded not guilty.
Fitch, who also was the school’s longtime boys basketball coach, has been on administrative leave since November, when the Fruitland School Board of Trustees learned that he was being investigated by the Idaho State Police.
Third District Magistrate Judge Matthew Bever, who is based in Canyon County, is presiding over the case and teleconferenced into the Payette County courthouse. Fitch also did not appear in Payette County but was in Canyon County with his attorney and the judge.
A date still has not been set for Fitch’s trial, but it will be held in Payette County.
The charging documents in Fitch’s case outline allegations that he sexually harassed the employee on school property by groping her, forcing her to touch his groin area and offering to pay her for sex after she declined his propositions.
Fitch’s contract, valid through June 30, pays a salary of about $77,600.
The woman has since filed a tort claim against the Fruitland School District, alleging that multiple school officials, including Superintendent Teresa Fabricius, were aware of Fitch’s “predatory behavior “and failed to act.
A tort claim is a legal document filed prior to a lawsuit involving a government agency, in this case a school district.
The claim alleges that multiple people knew Fitch had “a reputation” for being inappropriate with female staff and students. The female employee who is the alleged victim states that other staff warned her about Fitch’s behavior.
When the claim was filed in March, the school district declined to comment on the allegations.