High profile defense attorney Rusty Hardin is representing principal Robert Gasparello as he faces misdemeanor charges for not reporting possible abuse.
Hardin issued a statement this week saying the charges are false, and in fact the principal did look into the alleged abuse.
Hardin says Gasparello notified parents as soon as possible, connected students with counseling and reported the cases to his supervisors within 72 hours.
Meanwhile, the Houston Independent School District has hired the law firm Thompson & Horton to review the school district’s policies on reporting alleged sexual abuse.
Full statement from lawyer Rusty Hardin about Sharpstown High School Principal Robert Gasparello:
Mr. Gasparello is widely regarded and revered both by educators and parents of children in his school as an outstanding principal who has performed superbly at Sharpstown High School. Everyone who knows him, and has observed him, knows that his first priority has always been the safety and well-being of his students.
It is extremely unfair and unfortunate that he faces misdemeanor charges for allegedly not reporting possible abuse. That paints him in a false light. He in fact conscientiously looked into the two incidents and took swift action.
In one instance, he immediately informed the mother of a young woman who said she was assaulted off-campus by a family member and made sure the mother and victim reported this to police. It was reported to HPD within four hours of Mr. Gasparello learning of the incident. He also got the student to counseling to support her.
In the other matter, Mr. Gasparello immediately took steps to make sure the teacher in question was not alone with students, had another adult in the room and swiftly began to investigate the allegations. He reported the students’ allegations to their parents as soon as he and his staff could reach them and he quickly got the students to counseling support. When he had some idea of the facts involved, he reported these cases to his superiors within roughly 72 hours with the belief they would notify law enforcement.
The spirit of this law was to be used against people who hide abuse allegations – not against people who take them seriously and act immediately like Mr. Gasparello did. I pray that the public and law enforcement will not use this application of the law to blindly smear the good name of a caring and careful educator who is exactly the kind of person we need in our schools. I also pray that we do not handle this matter in a way that discourages other quality teachers and educators like Mr. Gasparello from taking on the myriad problems confronting our schools today.