State Department of Education suspends his high school teaching licenses and coaching permit under consent agreement.
The man who transformed Northwest High School's flailing football program into a former perennial powerhouse will never coach or teach again in Ohio.
The Ohio Department of Education suspended Vic A. Whiting's high school teaching license, coaching permit and permanent private school teaching certificate under a consent agreement that also limits Whiting from applying for a new state teaching license or public activity permit in the future.
Whiting, 61, signed the consent agreement on March 10, seven days after he officially retired from Northwest Local Schools. The longtime high school business teacher hasn't taught in the classroom since May when he was placed on paid administrative leave following accusations by female students that he touched them in a way that made them uncomfortable. Whiting, who spent 18 of his 38 years in education at Northwest, notified the district in July that he would utilize his sick time until his official retirement on March 3.
On Thursday, Whiting said the state consent agreement is a moot point because he never intended to seek a new teaching or coaching position after his retirement.
"I voluntarily gave it up just because I didn't want to teach or coach anymore," he said. "Thirty-eight years was enough."
Whiting ends his head football coaching career after 28 years with a record of 217-95 and 14 playoff appearances. He won back-to-back Division VI state championships at Delphos St. John's High School. During his 17 seasons at Northwest, Whiting led the Indians to 10 postseason appearances including eight consecutive playoffs in his first decade as coach.
Besides coaching football, Whiting also worked as Northwest's weightlifting and summer conditioning coach and the high school's attendance officer. He received high marks on both his coaching and teaching performance evaluations, his personnel records show.
The state consent agreement does not provide details as to what led to Whiting's license suspension and permanent reapplication limitation. Ohio law empowers the State Board of Education to revoke, limit or suspend an educator's certificate, license or permit if the educator is convicted of a crime, found to be immoral, incompetent, negligent or guilty of other conduct unbecoming of the position. Whiting has not been charged with a crime.
A public records request by The Canton Repository for the documents that prompted the state's investigation and led to the consent agreement was denied. Brittany Halpin, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Education, cited an exception to Ohio's public records law that requires the information the state education department obtains during its investigation into educator misconduct to remain confidential.
Whiting had been the subject of a Canal Fulton police criminal investigation and a Northwest schools internal investigation last spring following reports by teenage girls that he had touched them in a way they believed crossed teacher-student boundaries. Both investigations ended without charges or disciplinary action being filed.
Police investigatory records — obtained by the Repository through a public records request after the criminal investigation was closed — reveal additional, previously undisclosed, details about the allegations against Whiting. The records show at least six female students, ranging from 14 to 17 years old, reported claims of sexual misconduct against Whiting to police last May.
While Whiting's name was redacted from the police records, the mothers of three of the teenage girls confirmed Whiting's identity.
Among the accusations contained in the police investigatory files:
• A then-16-year-old girl told police that twice while she was lifting weights at Northwest High School, Whiting approached her from behind, pressed his body close to hers and proceeded to do squat exercises with her. "I could feel every inch of his body pressed against me including his penis against my rear as I would go down in the squats," she wrote in her statement. She said Whiting would place his hands below her breasts or put his arms over hers while holding the barbell during the exercises. The girl also reported that while climbing into the back of a car during a sports-related trip with Whiting and a group of students, Whiting "grabbed my rear and pushed me into the car to sit beside him." She also told police that she has caught Whiting looking at her breasts a few times and he would massage her shoulders and rub her back. She said the interactions occurred periodically between February 2015 and May 2016.
• A junior reported Whiting twice struck her on the rear with rolled up papers. The second incident was witnessed by a teacher and heard by an office secretary who told police she also heard Whiting say, "Spank that girl."
• Multiple girls separately told police either that Whiting had massaged and stroked their shoulders and back in a way that made them uncomfortable or they witnessed him rubbing the shoulders and back of other students, often female students. Many of the alleged incidents happened during class while students were taking a test.
• Two girls separately claimed Whiting often made inappropriate statements about the clothes they were wearing and had given girls in his class nicknames. One girl said the nicknames for girls in her class included "hot stuff, babe or beautiful."
• One girl told police Whiting would give the girls Popsicles when they correctly answered questions in class and would watch the girls eat them. She said she never saw any of the boys receive a Popsicle.
• A 14-year-old girl reported Whiting, who served as the high school's attendance officer, stopped her in the hallway as she was running late to class. She said he grabbed the inside of her hoodie at the bottom and held it for several minutes while questioning why she hadn't stopped at the attendance office with her excuse for being tardy.
• A 17-year old reported Whiting grabbed the bottom of her friend's shorts at her thighs to determine whether they met the school's dress code.
The investigatory records also include the Delphos Police Department's investigation of Whiting when he was accused of sexually touching and harassing a 15-year-old female student in 1990. Whiting had been working as a teacher and head football coach at St. John's High School near Toledo at the time. The police investigation resulted in no criminal charges being filed against Whiting. The student sued the Diocese of Toledo and St. John's in 1995, and the case ended in a confidential settlement between the woman and the diocese. Whiting left the school in 1999 for Northwest.
Similar to the Delphos case, Massillon City Prosecutor John H. Simpson concluded in August that the Canal Fulton Police Department's investigation lacked sufficient evidence to prove Whiting committed sexual imposition, a misdemeanor criminal charge. While Simpson called Whiting's actions "reprehensible," he said he could not prove Whiting had touched the girls on an erogenous part of the body for purposes of sexual gratification.
Simpson said in an Aug. 17 letter to the Canal Fulton Police Department the strongest case against Whiting were the allegations made by a teenage girl who declined to pursue charges. Police said Whiting allegedly used his finger to trace a logo that was written on the chest of the girl's sweatshirt.
The mother of the then-15-year-old Northwest student who was the first to file a complaint against Whiting with Canal Fulton police said she is relieved to learn he will never teach or coach again.
The mother, whom the Repository is not naming to protect the identity of her daughter, cited the dozens of girls and women who posted messages on social media following news reports of her daughter's accusations against Whiting. The posts alleged inappropriate encounters they or their friends had with Whiting going back decades. It's unclear how many of the accusers notified authorities at the time.
The mother continues to question Northwest Local School District's handling of the situation. She questions why the state education department found Whiting's actions severe enough to suspend his license, but Northwest allowed him to remain in the classroom for weeks after her daughter first reported Whiting to school officials April 26, 2016.
Northwest Superintendent Mike Shreffler said the district followed the school board's policies throughout its investigation into the allegations. According to Whiting's personnel file, he completed a 23-minute online boundary invasion course and a 32-minute sensitivity awareness course last April 28, then was given a written warning May 3 for failing to maintain professional and appropriate teacher-student boundaries after some other students filed additional complaints. The district placed Whiting on paid administrative leave May 12 while the law firm Bricker & Eckler conducted an internal investigation.
"By the time the internal investigation was over, he retired," Shreffler said. "So it was completely out of my hands."
Shreffler has denied the Repository's public records request for a copy of the closed investigation, stating it is protected by attorney-client privilege. Citing student privacy laws, Shreffler also has denied a request for copies of the statements students gave the district last spring regarding their interactions with Whiting.
Shreffler, who was hired as Northwest's superintendent in 2012, said the students' statements obtained last April were the first complaints he had received about Whiting. School board member Steve Jones, who retired as Northwest High School's principal in 2009, told parents during a July school board meeting that past complaints about Whiting had gone unsubstantiated.
Published reports in 2006 in the Repository's sister paper, The Independent, show that former Northwest school officials said they were aware of the 1990 Delphos St. John's student allegations against Whiting when the district hired him in 1999. The officials said the district's own investigation found the claims baseless.
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