LARGO - A Largo teacher, charged with child abuse after police say he directed a student to punish another who refused to stop playing cards, tells ABC Action News that the allegations are untrue.
The charges stem from an incident that happened at Largo High School on May 30, the second to last day of school. Largo police say Thomas Farmer, 44, got upset when a group of students in his technical arts class refused to stop playing cards.
According to police, Farmer directed one of his students, a 16-year-old skilled in martial arts, to physically make them stop. Police say that student then placed a 14-year-old student into a choke-hold until he became unconscious and fell on the ground, hitting his head.
The police report says Farmer did nothing to stop the incident and actually actively participated by telling the victim to "tap out." At the end of class, police say, the teacher instructed other students to help the victim onto a school bus.
Police say the victim's bus driver noticed the student was in distress and needed medical attention. The bus driver alerted the school resource officer. The student was then taken to the hospital. After the SRO finished his investigation, charges of child abuse were forwarded to the State Attorney's Office.
Farmer was arrested Wednesday morning. He has since been released on $10,000 bond. He insists police have the details completely wrong.
"What was in the report is nothing like anything that happened," said Farmer. "I'm not the animal that he put in the report. Anybody that knows me knows this isn't me. I wouldn't have done that."
Farmer says he is only guilty of not watching his class. He says he was working on his computer and was completely unaware of what was going on. He denies giving any direction to a student to harm another student.
"I never said anything like that," said Farmer.
Farmer resigned from his position earlier this month.
According to police, Farmer's account is a lie. The report says he lied to school administrators about the incident saying the student "fell."
"He's a teacher, a professional, an adult in charge of those children and certainly shouldn't be encouraging them to fight in that manner," said Lt. Michael Loux, Largo Police Department.
The 16-year-old boy who allegedly choked the victim is facing battery charges. Police say after receiving medical attention, the victim made a full recovery.