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Nicholas principal pleads not guilty to assault

CARLISLE — The lawyer representing a suspended Central Kentucky principal says his client felt threatened during an altercation with a student last month.

Nicholas County High School principal Joseph F. Orazen, 35, appeared in Nicholas District Court for an arraignment Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree assault.

"He's devastated," said Orazen's attorney, David Franklin of Lexington. "It's a bad situation he tried to avoid at all costs and couldn't do it."

Orazen was suspended after an altercation on Feb. 10 with high school student Dusty Green, 15.

WLEX-TV released surveillance footage of the altercation outside the school, saying it arrived in an unmarked package. The footage shows a man, identified by reporters as Orazen, wrapping his arms around a student, identified as Dusty, and slamming him to the ground.

"Believe me, there's a whole lot more to this than a 10-second video," Franklin said.

He declined to elaborate on the threats made against Orazen during the altercation.

Franklin said Dusty refused to leave school property when he returned after school to pick up a confiscated cell phone. He said Dusty has had disciplinary problems in school before.

"He wasn't going to take no for an answer," Franklin said of Dusty.

Franklin said the school resource officer was not available to help during the altercation and that the principal should not have been "put in a position like that."

Chief District Judge Jay Delaney denied a defense request to reduce bond from $7,500 full cash to about $2,000, which Franklin said is typical for a fourth-degree assault charge, a misdemeanor.

Delaney set the bond at 10 percent of $7,500, citing the nature of the allegations and relationship to the victim.

The judge ordered Orazen not to have contact with the victim and not have any other offenses.

But the judge decided to let the school district decide whether Orazen should be allowed on school property.

Orazen declined to comment as he left the courtroom Wednesday.

When asked afterward how he was coping with the situation, Dusty, who was in court Wednesday with his mother, Michelle Green, said he was "trying not to think about it, I guess."

"I just want him to be held accountable," Michelle Green said of Orazen outside the courtroom. "I don't want it to be brushed under the table."

Orazen is scheduled to return to court at 1 p.m. April 1.

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