Canal Fulton coach, school officials under fire

Posted at 11:47 PM, May 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-16 23:47:19-04

Tense moments at a school board meeting in Canal Fulton Monday night, after parents demanded answers following allegations of improper conduct against the school’s head football coach.

Police said two reports have now been filed against Coach Vic Whiting, prompting an investigation with police and within the school district. The reports were filed by a parent and by a student, Chief Doug Swartz said.

The district, meanwhile, said it is conducting an internal investigation after several female students have accused Whiting of inappropriately touching them over the last several weeks.

Things came to a head Monday evening when parents asked the superintendent and school board members how the district was specifically handling the allegations and whether Whiting was put on paid administrative leave.

One father, John Nesselrode, said his daughter told him last year about inappropriate contact with Coach Whiting, but he brushed it off.

Now, he wishes he believed her.

“She said there would be many times he would rub her shoulders, rub her bra straps, play with her hair, call her sweetie, sweetheart, honey,” Nesselrode said.

Other current and former students also spoke out in support of Whiting, saying the allegations are untrue and unfounded.

“I just want you guys to know Mr. Whiting is not the person everyone is making him out to be,” said Ashley Strayer, a former student and cheerleader who said she had never witnessed any inappropriate behavior. “Never pulled on my skirt, never made rude comments, nothing.”

When confronted by parents and reporters, superintendent Dr. Mike Shreffler would only state that they are working within board policy.

“We’re taking any allegations or complaints seriously,” Shreffler said, but did not confirm that Whiting had been placed on leave or specify what board policy entails.

Whiting has not responded to requests for comment.

He has been with the Northwest School district for 17 years. Prior to that, he settled a lawsuit more than 20 years ago involving a student in a school outside of Toledo, the details of which have not been made public.

Canal Fulton Police said Whiting has not been criminally charged in the current case.

“There was nothing that rose to a criminal level that we believe the school had knowledge of that they failed to communicate to us,” said Chief Doug Swartz. “Everything seemed to be an internal investigation on their part.”

Several students were also recognized for their academic achievements during Monday evening’s school board meeting, including a $5,000 scholarship through Cogan’s Core of Character.