UPDATE: Prosecutor explains while they chose not to file assault charges against Kato

Support for the teacher teacher accused of ripping a student's Trump pin from her shirt is...
Support for the teacher teacher accused of ripping a student's Trump pin from her shirt is coming in. (Source: WILX) (WILX)
Published: Dec. 16, 2019 at 4:55 PM EST
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The Ingham County Prosecutors Office is telling News 10 why they decided not to file assault charges against Mason teacher Paul Kato.

They said they decided not to file charges because there is no credible evidence of criminal conduct.

Chief Don Hanson of Mason Police confirmed that an alleged assault occurred at Mason Public School District on Dec. 5.

After what the Mason Police called, "a comprehensive investigation," was conducted, the case was turned over to the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

They are saying that criminal charges were denied in this case and that the criminal investigation is closed.

In a statement released to News 10, the superintendent says,"We appreciate the prompt and thorough investigation by the Mason Police Department,” says Ronald Drzewicki, Mason Public Schools Superintendent. “The district is still conducting an internal investigation, and will take appropriate action once we have gathered all the facts. We value the First Amendment rights of our student body, and also respect confidentiality and due process for all involved.”

The assault was reported by a student, Sadie Earegood, against a staff member at the school district around 2:45 that day.

Earegood declined to comment when asked about the outcome of the investigation.

Hanson said that no injuries were reported and the incident happened earlier in the day at the high school on Barnes Street.

"Due to a student being involved," Hanson added, "and the matter being open, no additional details will be released at this time."

Mason High School said they followed procedure by contacting law enforcement and conducting interviews.

They were not saying what happened.

“Mason Public Schools takes all concerns seriously,” says Ronald Drzewicki, Superintendent. “Once we have a complete understanding of the situation, we will take appropriate action, as needed. We are committed to providing a positive learning environment for our students.”

Drzewicki added that the incident did not affect the safety of the students or staff, but because the matter appeared on social media, they wanted to provide some information.

"Federal law prohibits us from discussing student-specific information with anyone other than law enforcement or legal counsel."

He said questions could be directed to him about the incident, however federal privacy laws will limit what he could share.

NEWS 10 talked to Sadie Earegood, after the alleged incident. She told us she was assaulted by a teacher during school hours because she supported President Donald Trump.

She said that Paul Kato, the media technology teacher at Mason High, was the teacher involved.

Earegood is 16 and a junior at the school. She said Kato started off by saying he didn't like the pin she was wearing.

"I was just really shocked that a teacher would especially do that," she said. "He's talking about the 'Women for Trump' pin and I said, 'that's fine you don't have to like it, we can have our opinions.'"

Earegood described a struggle between herself and Kato where he tried to take the pin off her.

"He grabbed it and I pulled, I tried to push his hand away and he grabbed my shoulder," she said. "(He) just kind of put his hand there, and then he started pulling more and more and I just started backing up."

She said Kato then put the pin upside down on his shirt and stated that it belonged that way.

The Earegoods filed a police report.

“I made a criminal assault and larceny report against the teacher," said Capi Earegood, Sadie's mother. "He had no right to put his hands on my child over a pin or anything else. The first amendment gives everyone the right to express their freedom of speech. No one should get that upset about someone wearing a political pin.”

The Mason School District has not confirmed with us that the allegations against Kato are true.

The dress code for Mason High School does not state anything about political paraphernalia not being allowed.

NEWS 10 found this: Clothing that displays alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gang association, weapons, sexual or suggestive references, profanity, violence, intimidation or organizations promoting any of these are not appropriate.

It also states that:

the School recognizes the right of students to express themselves. With the right of expression comes the responsibility to do it appropriately. Students may distribute or display, at appropriate times, non-sponsored, non-commercial written material and petitions; buttons, badges, or other insignia; clothing, insignia, and banners; and audio and video materials. All items must meet the following school guidelines: A. A material cannot be displayed if it: 1. is obscene to minors, libelous, indecent and pervasively or vulgar, 2. advertises any product or service not permitted to minors by law, 3. intends to be insulting or harassing, 4. intends to incite fighting or presents a likelihood of disrupting school or a school event. 5. Presents a clear and present likelihood that, either because of its content or manner of distribution or display, it causes or is likely to cause a material and substantial disruption of school or school activities, a violation of school regulations, or the commission of an unlawful act. 17 B. Materials may not be displayed or distributed during class periods, or during passing times between classes. Permission may be granted for display or distribution during lunch periods and after school in designated locations, as long as exits are not blocked and there is proper access and egress to the building. In order to insure whether or not materials they wish to display meet school guidelines, students must present them to the principal twenty-four (24) hours prior to display.

Earegood said that she won't be silenced and just wants people to know that she will continue to show her political views.

"I just want him to know that it's not okay to do that. I want this to be a learning experience for other teachers, and I'm not going to stop wearing my political stuff."

Paul Kato is originally from Nigeria. He worked to establish a residential soccer school in Nigeria for 10 years, and the school officially opened in 2018.

It's called the Kato International Training Academy (KITA) and it opened with 24 students.

Kato has also coached the high school soccer team in Mason.

His lawyer, Ray Correll, told us that Kato was on paid leave during the investigation and should be returning to school soon.

“I would certainly hope that he would be able to get back and teach and move on with his life,” Correll said of Kato.

He also said that Kato has been received death threats since the story broke. “He has received death threats over this and I sure hope that everybody moves on,” Correll said.

As far as the actual incident of removing the pin and putting it on, Correll wouldn't say if Kato took the pin off Earegood's shirt.

He added that Kato cooperated with the police and found out has been notified that there wouldn’t be criminal charges.

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