Video Sting Group Claims Michigan Union Got Payoff For Alleged Child-Molesting Teacher
James O’Keefe’s controversial undercover videos earlier brought down tax-funded ACORN activists
A nonprofit group known for undercover sting operations released a video Wednesday from its investigation into a Michigan teachers union fighting the dismissal of a high school teacher accused of sexual abuse involving a young girl.
Project Veritas reports that while dating the girl’s mother, the teacher allegedly went into the child’s bedroom, touched her and tried to remove her underwear. According to the video report, the alleged abuse occurred as many as 10 times.
Years later, when the girl arrived in the teacher’s own high school classroom, she accused him of abusing her. The video reports that the teacher was forced to resign from this school. But it also reports that due to intervention by the Michigan arm of the American Federation of Teachers, he was allowed to keep his teaching certificate and got a $50,000 settlement from the school district.
Much of the video focuses on secretly taped conversations in 2013 between a Project Veritas operative and Johnny Mickles, described as a field representative for AFT-Michigan.
According to the interviews, the teacher had dated the student’s mother for about a year when the girl was in third grade.That's when the alleged abuse occurred. Eight years later, when the girl was in a high school class taught by this teacher, she reported the alleged abuse to the superintendent.
Mickles says in the video that AFT-Michigan President David Hecker and the union’s legal counsel, Mark Cousens, were involved in getting the $50,000 settlement. Mickles is shown saying that Hecker and Cousens said they would support whatever the local union decided to do. Mickles also says that the union decided to fight the school district’s efforts to terminate the teacher’s employment.
Project Veritas is run by James O’Keefe, whose undercover investigations are controversial because they are conducted under false pretenses. AFT-Michigan claimed that Project Veritas operative Marisa Jorge created a fake identity as a University of Michigan education student and got an internship with the union in the summer. AFT-Michigan claimed that Jorge gathered confidential information during unlawful surveillance.
Project Veritas tracked down the teacher who denied the accusations on a hidden camera. It didn’t identify the teacher because, it said, no charges were filed against him.
This investigation received national attention in 2017 when a judge issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Project Veritas from releasing the video. This week, a federal judge lifted that order, permitting O’Keefe’s group to release the video.
AFT President Randi Weingarten responded to the judge’s ruling on Twitter.
“You may cloak yourself in the protections of the First Amdt-but unlawful eavesdropping, recorded misrepresentations, trespassing, theft of documents & splicing and dicing of unlawfully obtained material is not what most people call the truth,” Weingarten tweeted.
Hecker didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
But the AFT-Michigan stated in an email sent via the AFT Michigan Presidents’ Update in October of 2017.
“We all know our unions are under attack these days–an incident like this makes it all too real,” Hecker said in the email. “We will certainly pursue justice to the full extent of the law and we are confident we will prevail. But, in the end, this isn’t about them. It’s about us, and how we respond in these moments of crisis. Let’s show that we’ll stick together and grow stronger even in the face of such despicable attacks.”
Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.