PINELLAS COUNTY, FL A 15-year-old girl who accused a Pinellas County school official of lewd and lascivious behavior recanted her story two days before he committed suicide, but no one had told him, authorities confirmed.
Douglas Tarrant, the school district's assistant superintendent for finance, died at his home about 4 p.m. Friday, police said. He left behind a videotape proclaiming his innocence of the charges.
Tarrant's brother and father said Monday they don't believe the accusation was the only reason for his action but said they believe it contributed to his death.
The girl's mother told the police and the school her daughter had changed her story, but no one told Tarrant.
The girl's mother called police and school officials last week to tell them her daughter had changed her story, but no one told Tarrant.
"I think that somebody somewhere along the line could have told somebody that the story had been altered," the mother said Monday. "It's too late now. I did everything I knew to do."
Tarrant was arrested the Monday before his death and charged with committing a lewd and lascivious act after the 15-year-old told police that Tarrant asked her to get into his car, and that she could see him masturbating.
"It would have been highly unprofessional of me to build his hopes up ... about anything."
The mother said the daughter changed her story under questioning, saying that Tarrant had asked her to get into his car but that he wasn't masturbating.
Tarrant's brother, Jeff, said the girl's mother called him Monday to tell him what had happened.
St. Petersburg detective James Dressback said the mother called him. She also called Superintendent Scott Rose on Thursday and he referred her to Director of Personnel Service Steve Crosby, who was investigating the incident.
Crosby talked to the mother Friday morning, then called Tarrant before lunch but didn't mention the mother's call because he wasn't sure which story was correct.
"I was confused about the story myself at the time," Crosby said. "It would have been highly unprofessional of me to build his hopes up about the possible retraction of anything."
Crosby said Tarrant thanked him for his consideration and discussed a planned meeting with an attorney. He said he gave Tarrant his home telephone number and asked him to call after the meeting.
"When somebody's talking to you about meeting with his attorney on Monday, you just don't think that he might be considering committing suicide," Crosby said.