BUTLER – Prosecutors in the case against a former Slippery Rock Middle School teacher, who was accused of inappropriately touching students, have moved to dismiss the charges.
The Butler County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion Wednesday in Butler County Court of Common Pleas to drop charges against Robert Preston Willison, 52, of Slippery Rock.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Pitchford said evidence in the case has become “weaker” compared to when it was first filed by state police in October 2018.
Prosecutors are not confident that they can prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, she said.
The request has been sent to Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCune, who must sign the paperwork in order for the case to be formally dismissed.
Pitchford said she’s not sure when McCune might take a look at the case, and she’s also not sure if the district attorney’s office would ever consider refiling the charges against Willison.
Willison was charged with institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors, harassment, endangering the welfare of children and indecent assault. He was suspended from his job as an eighth-grade math teacher soon after charges were filed.
Dr. Alfonso Angelucci, superintendent of Slippery Rock Area School District, confirmed on Thursday that Willison is not teaching in the district, though he declined to say whether the teacher had been fired.
Angelucci would not say whether the district would consider hiring him back if the case is dismissed because the district does not comment on personnel matters.
Willison’s attorney, Eric D. Levin of Rishor Simone in Butler, released a statement saying that the firm appreciates the district attorney’s office for its diligent efforts in reviewing the evidence.
“My client has vehemently denied the allegations and steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the course of the this matter,” Levin said.
The attorney said Willison has dedicated his career to helping young people mature and bettering the community.
“He would never violate the duty and trust placed in him as it relates to our children,” Levin said.
Levin said Willison’s innocence became increasingly apparent after a review of the evidence, and that withdrawing the charges is appropriate.
Court records from 2018 reported that Willison had been suspended by the district in 2012 after district officials said he inappropriately touched a female teacher’s buttocks in the copy room, an occurrence confirmed by a witness.
He was suspended again in 2015 for touching another teacher’s buttocks and making inappropriate comments about students to her.
The incidents were reported to school officials, who suspended Willison. He later returned to work.