A juvenile court judge dropped the assault charge Wednesday against an Osbourn High School teacher accused of striking a student in class.
When the student failed to appear in court to testify for a second time, the assault charge against William Henry Garcia was dropped.
“We hope now everyone can move forward and get back to work,” Garcia’s attorney David S. Stone said after the hearing. “We’re pleased the school system has been supportive of Mr. Garcia. … He’s a valuable member of the school system.”
Garcia was in his second year of teaching Spanish at Osbourn when the 14-year-old student accused him of assault. In a criminal complaint filed with the Prince William Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, the student claims Garcia became upset with him during class Oct. 27. The student was sent out of the room during class and afterward Garcia called the boy back into his room.
The student claimed that Garcia “began fussing with him about his attitude in class,” according to the criminal complaint. During the conversation, Garcia “became angry, grabbed [the student] by the collar of his sweatshirt, threw him onto the floor and said to him: ‘I will [expletive] kill you,’ ” the student claims in the criminal complaint.
Manassas City Police Detective Tina A. Pannell noted several red marks on the boy’s neck and collarbone, according to the criminal complaint.
Garcia’s trial was originally scheduled in March, but the student and his father failed to come to court. Pannell told the court she had subpoenaed both to appear on that date. Judge Janice J. Brice postponed the trial until Wednesday, and ordered both the student and his father to be in court and explain why they hadn’t appeared in March.
Wednesday, the boy’s father came alone. After dropping Garcia’s charge, Brice tried Juan Chavez-Fabela for failing to appear in court. Brice dismissed that charge as well. Chavez-Fabela, through a Spanish interpreter, told Brice he never received any notice because he moved before the subpoenas were delivered to his former address.
In March, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claiborne T. Richardson II told the court that Chavez-Fabela decided he didn’t want to pursue the prosecution, in part because Garcia was working with his older son. Richardson said Chavez-Fabela sent his younger son to Mexico. Wednesday, Richardson said Chavez-Fabela had been unable to secure a visa so the boy could return to testify.
Because Garcia’s charge was dropped, not dismissed, Garcia could be charged again should the student return from Mexico. The alleged crime is a misdemeanor, so prosecutors have a year from the date of the offense to try the defendant.
“We don’t know if the victim can get a visa. That’s the first thing we have to wait for,” Richardson said after the hearing. “After that the police would make a decision.”
Richardson explained the case would require further investigation if it were to be brought back to court, since the boy never spoke with a prosecutor.
“We wanted to go forward because the son said this had taken place,” Richardson said. “The Commonwealth hasn’t talked to him because the father sent him to Mexico. We’re at a standstill at this point.”
In March, Stone said his client worked with the student in a school community service club, Interact, sponsored by Bull Run Rotary Club. Stone said Garcia also attempted to provide alternative activities for students to gangs, and that the charge was manufactured against him.
Asked if he believed his client could be charged again, Stone said he hoped not.
“We’ve said all along Mr. Garcia is a good teacher and certainly innocent,” Stone said.
Garcia declined to comment.