Arguments heard in former Nicholas principal's assault trial

CARLISLE — A Central Kentucky high school principal accused of assaulting a student in February restrained the student because he felt threatened, and the principal did not know whether the boy had a knife or gun, his attorneys said Thursday.

Defense attorneys told the jury that Dusty Green, then 15, cursed at Nicholas County High School principal Joseph F. Orazen and refused to leave school property. Orazen's attorney, David Franklin, said the principal didn't want to let Green back inside the school because he feared there could have been a violent outbreak like at Heath High School in Paducah or Columbine High School in Colorado. Those two schools had tragic shootings in the late 1990s in which students were killed and injured.

Franklin said Orazen was justified in his actions.

"This was a totally, completely out-of-control kid," Franklin said during opening arguments in the two-day trial.

Orazen, who is charged with fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, is accused of slamming Green to the ground outside the school on Feb. 10. He has pleaded not guilty and was suspended by the district shortly after the altercation.

On Thursday, Franklin said Orazen restrained Green using his knee to block the boy's fall.

Harrison County Attorney Charles Kuster, who is prosecuting the case because the Nicholas County Attorney is also the school board's attorney, said there is no justification for slamming a student to the ground. Kuster told the jury Green did not have any weapons.

Green, now 16, testified that he approached Orazen after school and that the principal told him not to return to the property. The boy had served an in-school suspension earlier that day after becoming angry because his cell phone was confiscated.

Green said he walked to Tracks, a nearby restaurant, after school to wait for his ride. But he returned to the school within a few minutes to get his jacket.

Orazen was standing on the school steps and would not allow the boy back into the building, Green said.

"I was pretty aggravated," Green said. "He wouldn't let me get my jacket."

Green, who was recovering from a broken collarbone he suffered in a four-wheeler accident, said he was in pain after the incident with Orazen.

Asked how long Orazen had him on the ground, Dusty replied, "It felt like a long time."

Carlisle police Sgt. Tim Layne took Green to a hospital where he was given Tylenol for the pain.

"He was crying, and he had some abrasions around his eye," Lane testified.

Kuster said Green, who weighed about 110 pounds, was never closer than about seven feet from Orazen, a taller man who weighed about 250 pounds. Orazen led Dusty down the school stairs and attacked him out of the view of people in the school lobby, Kuster said.

Kuster showed the jury a school surveillance video of the altercation.

A 17-year-old female student testified that the video was not an accurate portrayal of what happened because it's difficult to see the individuals in the footage. She said Green was "moving a lot" and Orazen was trying to restrain him.

Robert Hopkins, the high school's football coach, said he watched as Orazen took Green to in-school suspension that day. He testified that Green was "very disrespectful" and "mouthy, but not violent."

Kuster made Hopkins repeat the statement three times.

The trial resumes Friday.

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