• Fort White High School softball coach accused of watching players change

    By: Danielle Avitable , Action News Jax


    COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE, 9/1/17: Columbia County deputies are now investigating claims against Fort White High School softball coach Chad Padgett.

    Padgett is accused of watching girls undress in the locker room at Fort White High School.

    The school district said it looked into the accusations but found nothing to substantiate them.

    Deputies plan to start the investigation Tuesday with interviews.

    Original story from 8/31/17 below:

    Some parents in Columbia County are questioning why a softball coach is still with the team, despite accusations he watched his players change in the locker room.

    He has been investigated more than once.

    A parent tells Action News Jax that school leaders aren't taking the claims seriously.

    "I was just getting in and trying to get my shorts on when I saw him staring at us," said a sixth-grader who didn’t want to be identified.

    She claims Fort White High School coach Chad Padgett was standing in the girls locker room watching girls undress. Fort White is a grade 6-12 school.

    "He was staring at us for a few minutes, like five or 10 minutes, and then left," the student said. "It really made us uncomfortable"

    Her mother, who also doesn't want to be named, said she went straight to the school after hearing about the allegations.

    "I almost fell on the floor, to be honest with you. I couldn't believe it," the mother said.

    The school district said it looked into the reported incident, but found no factual basis to substantiate the report.

    "My daughter would not come home and say something like or bring this type of attention if this was not true," the mother said.

    Another school district report shows that in 2015, Padgett was accused of several allegations, including entering a softball locker room as female athletes were changing.

    But it was later determined he never entered the locker room.

    The report states four of the 14 players interviewed said Padgett entered the locker room once while they were changing, but they weren't able to agree on how far he walked in.

    We went to the Padgett’s house to get his side of the story but no one came to the door.

    "There's just no excuse for this. Not at all," the mother said.

    Keith Couey, principal of Fort White High School, sent Action News Jax the following statement:

    "The Columbia County School District considers the safety of our students and staff a high priority. We are very vigilant in investigating all alleged improprieties. The recent allegation by a parent regarding one of our employees was investigated by school personnel in the presence of law enforcement and was found to be without merit. We consider this accusation unfounded, and the investigation closed."

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