October 3, 2013 in Washington Voices

Court overturns sentence against former U-Hi teacher

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The state Court of Appeals has thrown out the sentence of a former University High School teacher on driving under the influence charges, ruling he was improperly sentenced.

The Sept. 26 decision upholds a Spokane County Superior Court ruling that Michael F. Cronin was not found guilty of the charges and therefore the sentencing was invalid.

Cronin, who was fired by the Central Valley School District in January 2012, has had multiple arrests on charges of driving under the influence. After an incident in December 2007 he received deferred prosecution, which meant the charge would be dismissed if he didn’t violate his probation by having a similar charge in the next five years. He also was not allowed to consume alcohol.

Prosecutors moved to revoke Cronin’s deferred prosecution in September 2011 after he was charged with physical control, which is similar to driving under the influence but is used when an officer doesn’t witness the impaired person driving. The judge who revoked the deferred prosecution immediately sentenced Cronin to 364 days in jail with 229 days suspended and five years of probation, but Cronin did not serve the time because of his appeal.

“The court proceeded directly from revocation to sentencing without finding him guilty upon the stipulated facts in the report,” the appeals court decision reads. The decision also states that Cronin cannot be sentenced again because of double-jeopardy rules.

Cronin did serve jail time for the physical control conviction – he was sentenced to 364 days in jail with 94 days suspended, 150 days of electronic home monitoring and 12 months of monitored probation. He was also sentenced to 30 days in jail on a charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer in Pend Oreille County in February 2012.

Cronin is also appealing a Spokane County Superior Court decision that his lawsuit against the Central Valley School District for improper termination must be thrown out because Cronin did not file his lawsuit within 30 days of the district’s decision. Cronin was fired after the school district received several complaints that Cronin was drunk while teaching and that he had inappropriately touched female students and a female staff member.

Cronin’s legal issues have continued since his termination. In June, a family living near Cronin applied for an anti-harassment protection order against him. They reported that Cronin has been screaming insults and obscenities at them from his front yard. “He is consistently inebriated and stumbling around babbling,” they wrote.

In September, the general manager of the Manito Golf and Country Club also filed an anti-harassment protection order against Cronin, alleging that Cronin often trespasses on golf course property. Cronin, who lives near the fourth hole of the golf course, has threatened to kill employees, the manager wrote. Several 10- to 12-year-old players also reported that Cronin approached them near the fourth hole and put his arm around a young girl while in an “intoxicated state,” the complaint alleges.

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