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Hernando High Coach Resigns, Hires Attorney


Published:   |   Updated: May 8, 2013 at 01:28 PM

BROOKSVILLE - A suspended Hernando High School coach has resigned amid controversy and obtained an attorney, district officials confirmed Thursday.

Eric Riggins, 31, a paraprofessional and track coach, was suspended with pay last month after police launched an investigation. District officials are also aware of a separate criminal investigation being conducted, school board attorney Paul Carland said.

He confirmed that Riggins submitted a resignation letter Monday.

Long-term substitute teacher Brent Mobley - also a track coach - was fired for the same incident, though officials would not elaborate on what the investigation entailed.

Hernando County Sheriff's Office deputies were seen interviewing dozens of Hernando High students two weeks ago, though at the time, officials would not confirm or deny that a criminal investigation was ongoing. Historically, the agency takes that stance when an investigation involves minors or sex abuse.

Riggins briefly worked as an aide at the STAR center, Hernando County's alternative school, and spent three seasons coaching football and track and field at Nature Coast before moving to Hernando this past season to fill the position of offensive coordinator under new football coach Rodney Byrd.

He was in the midst of his first year as boys' track and field coach at Hernando. Mobley served as an assistant for track and field and the junior varsity football team.

Records show Riggins pleaded no contest in 1998 to a charge of aggravated assault and received five years of probation. Two years later, two charges of possession or sale of marijuana were dropped against Riggins because of a witness problem. Mobley has no criminal record in Florida.

In 2006, the Florida Department of Education cited Riggins' arrests when denying his application for certification as a coach, but later reached a settlement in which Riggins was granted certification with conditions, including a $250 fine and a letter of reprimand.

Assistant principal Diane Saltsman has acknowledged the investigation, but said she could not comment on specifics since it has been turned over to district officials, who have passed it on to their attorney.

However, Carland said he cannot legally comment on the case until Thursday, when 10 days have passed since the closing of the district's investigation.

"I can't say anything at this point," he said.

Tampa-based attorney Laguerra Champagne, who is representing Riggins, said she did not have time to talk about the case at press time Friday.

Riggins could not be reached for comment, as two of his phone numbers appear to have been disconnected.




Reporter Linnea Brown can be reached at 352-544-5289 or lbrown@hernandotoday.com.

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