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Man calling for memorial to teacher to be pulled

Man calling for memorial to teacher to be pulled

PAULDING, Ohio (WTVN) -- For 32 years Barry Vance has kept a secret. Earlier this week he determined that he couldn't stay silent anymore.  

"I didn't want to carry it anymore. I just got tired of reliving it everyday," he said.

Vance showed up at the Paulding Exempted School District's board of education meeting earlier this week. It was there that he shared his secret - he had been raped by a teacher.

The allegations were made against Don Schnepp, a long-time teacher at Paulding Middle School. Vance claims the rape happened in a classroom, during school hours, in 1982.

"It has affected my family. It has affected my social life. It has affected me in every way as a person," he said.

A memorial rock sits in front of the school honoring Schnepp, who died in 2004. Police say his death was a suicide. Vance says it came a week after he sent the former teacher a letter about the effects his actions had on his life.  

Vance wants to see the memorial rock removed, but many in the community who remember Schnepp want it to stay. It's a situation that's caused a stir and division in the community.  

"Some people say remove it, some people say don't," said Superintendent William Hanak, who is finishing up his first year on the job.  

It's a tough situation. The allegations are serious and cannot be taken lightly, but right now there's no way to know whether or not something really happened.  

"I have no proof that it didn't and I have no proof that it did because I can't talk with the person," he said.  

Hanak hopes someone else will come forward that might be able to shed some light on the story. Vance knows he is not the only victim and claims he's heard from others.

If the allegations are true, Hanak says there is no question that the memorial will be removed. 

"I think people are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Obviously, everyone has an opinion," he said.  

He isn't sure yet what course of action to take. The next school board meeting is May 20 and the topic is likely to come up again at that meeting.

"We want to move past it and heal from this, so we've got to do what's best for all of us - which isn't going to make everybody happy."

 

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