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Anti-Gay Creationist Teacher Who Branded Student with Cross is Fired


You may recall the story of John Freshwater, an anti-gay creationist school teacher in Mount Vernon, Ohio, accused of burning crosses into his students arms. Last January I reported that he had undergone a 14-month hearing about his activities, which included burning a cross on a student's arm in a science demonstration.

School officials have finally fired Freshwater: Freshwater

The Mount Vernon school board decided Monday night to accept a state hearing officer's recommendation to terminate John Freshwater. The firing took effect a few hours later, at midnight, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Freshwater registered his unhappiness in an e-mail to The Associated Press on Tuesday but did not say whether he'd appeal. He had appealed an earlier move to dismiss him after an internal investigation.

He was accused of preaching Christian beliefs in class when discussing topics such as evolution and homosexuality. He also was accused of using a scientific device to mark students with a cross and of keeping a Bible on his desk.

In an article last January, the NYT wrote:

"One high school teacher said she consistently had to reteach evolution to Mr. Freshwater’s students because they did not master the basics. Another testified that Mr. Freshwater told his students they should not always take science as fact, citing as an example a study that posited the possibility of a gene for homosexuality. 'Science is wrong,' Mr. Freshwater was reported as saying, 'because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, and so anyone who is gay chooses to be gay and is therefore a sinner.' A third teacher testified that Mr. Freshwater advised students to refer to the Bible for additional science research. School officials said Mr. Freshwater’s science classroom was adorned with at least four copies of the Ten Commandments and several other posters that included verses from Scripture."

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  1. If he had been gay the investigation would have taken 14 minutes instead of 14 months

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 12, 2011 8:25:21 AM

  2. @Steve, hell yeah! How in the hell does it take that long to fire his ass?! You TOUCH my kid, much less burn him (!) and I am calling the cops. Wow, they must have REALLY wanted to NOT fire this guy.

    Posted by: princely54 | Jan 12, 2011 8:33:04 AM

  3. Cue the Christianists claiming victimhood and that Freedom of Religion is being undermined in 5... 4... 3...

    Posted by: Strepsi | Jan 12, 2011 8:36:57 AM

  4. Religion is a mental illness.

    Posted by: Brent Z | Jan 12, 2011 8:44:23 AM

  5. He was probably 14 months away from reaching some pension milestone, so they ran out the clock and now he'll get even more taxpayer money for the rest of his life.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jan 12, 2011 8:57:01 AM

  6. So he got fired? How about arrested for child abuse and disfigurement that occurred, by his own admission, "hundreds of times"?

    If this is a public school and parents took no action after 20 years of this crap, they're on the hook too. That's not remotely education, it's indoctrination. To lies. He must have some influential friends in the school system.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 12, 2011 8:57:12 AM

  7. Just one more example of a dangerously deranged Christianist wingnut Creationist influencing (and maiming) young students...and yet, with attitudes like this "teacher", we wonder why our students lag so far behind students in other countries!

    Posted by: Rob | Jan 12, 2011 9:01:27 AM

  8. It never fails to amaze me that we would tolerate religious instruction in the place of established scientific thinking. It is the place of the church, parents, and perhaps the local community to indoctrinate their young as they see fit. This does not, however, extend to public schools that are funded by state and local governments and very often receive funds from the federal government.

    In addition, what kind of school administrator tolerates a teacher literally inflicting physical harm on their charges? It is monstrous.

    Posted by: Kas | Jan 12, 2011 9:36:13 AM

  9. For all the speculation of whether the board didn't want to fire him, or whether there was some pension milestone: no. Freshwater went through a lengthy due process hearing and was suspended without pay during that time. The process cost the local school district $900,000, and the public was, unfortunately, largely on the side of the Freshwater. The board had every reason (financial, political) NOT to proceed against this guy, but they did, and they finally fired him. The hearing took too long and cost too much, but justice prevailed. I know this because I live in this town.

    Posted by: Jacob | Jan 12, 2011 9:44:10 AM

  10. Paul R is exactly right. Being fired should be the least of this guy's punishments.

    Here's hoping he'll soon be married to a 300-pounder who works in the license plate shop.

    Posted by: justiceontherocks | Jan 12, 2011 9:55:12 AM

  11. @Jacob, thanks for the information. Can you tell us why he isn't being arrested for physically abusing the kid(s)??

    Posted by: princely54 | Jan 12, 2011 10:05:36 AM

  12. @Princely54: I don't know. He claimed innocence and, in fact, sued the schools and the family of the kid for defamation. All of those lawsuits have been withdrawn. As far as I know, no criminal investigations have taken place. He's claimed that the use of the Tesla coil was a legitimate science demonstration.

    For more, see

    Posted by: Jacob | Jan 12, 2011 10:09:15 AM

  13. @BRENT Z: So you agree with me that it's a choice to be mentally ill?

    Posted by: Nanny McBone | Jan 12, 2011 10:11:14 AM

  14. @Jason, yes, thank you for this background. I am among those who are wondering why he is not being charged with felony assault. I wonder if he also coached one of the athletic teams and if it consistently had a winning record. Coaches with winning records sometimes get a pass on strange behavior.

    Posted by: james | Jan 12, 2011 10:12:19 AM

  15. There is a Wikipedia entry on this case. Lots of helpful background. Teachers have complained for over a decade, administrators did intervene, the school system settled a lawsuit from a family whose son was "branded" ($475,000 settlement), and Freshwater withdrew a lawsuit against the school system.

    And he was the assistant football coach. I just knew there was some sort of coaching role in here somewhere.

    Posted by: james | Jan 12, 2011 10:32:55 AM

  16. When does the story come out about the rest stops he hangs out in or the one-way mirror between his office and the boys' locker room?

    I'd give a pretty to search his hard-drive.

    Posted by: Danny | Jan 12, 2011 10:48:56 AM

  17. @Jacob - The use of a Tesla Coil makes it a legitimate science demonstration? I suppose Dr. Mengele's experiments on concentration camp prisoners must have been justified as well then. (I know you are not defending this man. I am just pointing out the absurdity in such a defense.)

    Posted by: MajorTom | Jan 12, 2011 11:48:06 AM

  18. oh thats worth at least 100k a pop. somebody better find some money.

    Posted by: mike | Jan 12, 2011 12:18:27 PM

  19. When can we start holding these wacko teachers responsible in civil court? I'm talking bankrupt these freaks. They in turn are bankrupting us by producing morons and turning them loose into the workforce.

    Posted by: Shawn | Jan 12, 2011 2:35:25 PM

  20. He needs to teach his fairy tales and abuse children in a religious school. It's perfectly acceptable there - maybe a Catholic school will hire him to run it?

    Posted by: Shane | Jan 12, 2011 3:42:33 PM

  21. Is there any explanation why criminal charges haven't been brought? This doesn't make sense.

    Posted by: Bruno | Jan 12, 2011 4:09:43 PM

  22. if this clown had major backing from town residents, what does it say about them? in most towns if a teacher burned a child they people would all but lynch the teacher. to burn a cross into a childs arm takes one sick mind. this man should be in jail for child abuse and assault.

    Posted by: walter | Jan 12, 2011 8:14:00 PM

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