Florida State Attorney's Office Drops All Charges Against St Patrick Interparish Assistant Principal For Alleged CSA Coverup

Florida State Attorney's Office Drops All Charges Against St Patrick Interparish Assistant Principal For Alleged CSA Coverup

All charges against St. Patrick Interparish Catholic school Assistant Principal Ryan Clemens for his alleged coverup of sexual abuses committed by physical education (P.E.) teacher Christopher Chell have been dropped.

Clemens was facing three counts of child neglect, two counts of failure to report suspected child abuse, and one count of fraud, spread throughout a total of five cases. Clemens was accused of failing to report and concealing evidence for Chell.

Chell is currently facing twelve counts of molestation against victims between the ages of 12-16, six counts of committing a sexual offense as an authoritative figure, and one count of child cruelty, spread throughout a total of six cases. 

Clemens and Chell’s sworn complaints show that they both had been working at St. Patrick Interparish for 4.5 years before they were arrested. Chell worked as the school’s history teacher before becoming the P.E. teacher. Clemens worked as the school’s P.E. teacher before becoming the assistant principal. They both switched positions at the same time in the fall of 2022. 

It has not yet been independently verified if Clemens and Chell ever worked in tandem while coaching, but the reports confirm that Clemens held the same employment position and contact with children as Chell for roughly three years before becoming the assistant principal. 

State Attorney Brian Kramer told the Alachua Chronicle that the evidence showing the extent of the delay in Clemen’s reporting was insufficient to warrant charges, citing Florida's mandatory reporting statute not not specifying a time frame for reporting suspected abuse.

Section 39 of 2023 Florida Statutes, otherwise known as Florida's mandatory reporting statute states:

"A person is required to report immediately to the central abuse hotline established in s. 39.101, in writing, through a call to the toll-free telephone number, or through electronic reporting, if he or she knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect that any of the following has occurred: (a) Child abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent or caregiver, which includes, but is not limited to, when a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare or when a child is in need of supervision and care and has no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative immediately known and available to provide such supervision and care."
2023 Florida Statute 39

The statute goes on to state:

Sexual abuse of a child…. must be reported immediately to the central abuse hotline.

The sworn complaints detail that Clemens did not report the matter to law enforcement after he was told that Chell asked a student if he could be her “secret boyfriend” on February 20th, 2024. Clemens reportedly began investigating the inappropriate behavior himself. 

Clemens' supposed investigation included having a private meeting between himself, Chell, and the victim. 

The reports state that in the same week (Feb 22), Clemens received reports from a faculty member that Chell had been fixated on a student through a classroom window while she was taking a test.  

Clemens reportedly told the Department of Children and Families (DCF) about the incident regarding the unlawful “secret boyfriend” comment made by Chell one day after he was told by the faculty member that Chell had been staring at a student. 

The sworn complaints state that the DCF had found “Chell engaged in no wrong-doing” and that Clemens and Chell both “referenced DCF’s refusal to investigate the matter as an indication that no wrong-doing had taken place.” 

Clemens’ dropped evidence concealment charge accused him of reporting false information to the DCF. When the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) first reported Clemens' arrest, they said his reports to DCF “[minimized] the incident.” 

Florida's mandatory reporting statute states:

"A person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of child abuse, abandonment, neglect, or abuse of a vulnerable adult or who advises another to make a false report is guilty of a felony of the third degree."

The sworn complaints additionally detail that Clemens received reports of abuses committed by Chell as far back as early February, stating, “This is evidenced by the fact [Clemens] had reviewed and saved clips from the gym surveillance cameras even as far back as [February 8th]." 

At the GPD quarterly update last month, Captain Paris Owens publicly acknowledged the criminal activity coming out of St. Patrick Interparish. She said, “We are continuing to get folks that are coming forward to advise that their children have been victimized by Mr. Chell. This investigation continues, and, hopefully, [since we are] putting the information out there. . . . Hopefully, people will continue to come forward so we can bring some resolution to these families.”


Clip from the GPD Quarterly Update

All of Chell’s cases remain open. He pleaded not guilty in his original case, which charged him with ten molestation counts. He has yet to have hearings for his other cases. 

Jack Walden

Jack Walden

Jack Walden is the creator of Gnvinfo and a 2nd year journalism major at Santa Fe College. From general information, to exposing falsehoods and corruption, Jack seeks to deliver the truth.
Gainesville, FL