New trial date for former Idaho Falls teacher accused of assaulting student

Idaho Falls — The trial of a former Idaho Falls teacher accused of assaulting a student more than a year ago has been rescheduled.

Former Eagle Rock Middle School teacher Jared Emfield, 46, faces multiple misdemeanor charges for ramming a student into a wall and threatening him while pinning him to the ground. He was initially charged with one misdemeanor battery charge and pleaded not guilty last April.

Other misdemeanor charges were laid against Emfield in January, including one count of battery, two counts of assault, one count of false imprisonment and one count of disorderly conduct.

On April 14, Magistrate Wiley Dennert heard arguments from the defence and prosecution. Hours later, Emfield’s attorney, Allen Browning, asked the court to quash the case, and the judge agreed.

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Browning explained that the trial failed because the prosecution “introduced unlawful evidence unrelated to the trial.”

“It’s very biased and shouldn’t be mentioned,” Browning said. “In this case, someone said something bad about (about my) client that was incorrect. For us, to get into this and prove it wasn’t true, it took a lot of time to address the real issues of the trial. The only way (Emfield) to be treated fairly then was to start over.”

Browning declined to provide any details about the evidence presented.

A new trial date has been set for 6 September. It could last up to four days, but Browning doesn’t expect more than two days.

Photo by Justin Benzig

The encounter between Emfield and the student allegedly took place outside Emfield’s classroom, which is located in a manufacturing trailer on the north side of the school. According to the vice-principal, the clash took place in the blind spot of the school’s security cameras, so there was no footage. Student cell phone video was used as evidence in the investigation.

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An officer spoke with the school’s vice-principal shortly after the alleged incident. He detailed what happened.

The student, whose name was removed from the police report, had been with an adult assistant during the fight with Emfield.

The vice-principal told officers that the altercation between Emfield and the student began when the student said he didn’t want to do Emfield’s planned homework.

“(The student) and Jared started arguing in the classroom,” the vice-principal told the officer. “[Students]have struggled in the past to control their emotions in the face of conflict. (Students’) behavioral plans include leaving the classroom before the conflict turns into a physical conflict.”

There are about 20 students in the classroom. As Emfield and the student continued to argue, aides reportedly stepped in and took the student outside.

Emfield allegedly followed them outside the door into the main school building. The vice-principal said Emfield “bumped (the student) near the outer door outside the building.” The aide tried to intervene, and Emfield also threatened him, the report said.

Additional background information is provided in separate conversations with students and their assistants.

The student told officers that Emfield yelled at him and called him a punk as he and his assistant got up to leave. The student told Emfield that he did not want to do the assignment. The student said he left when Emfield told him he still had to do it.

“(The student) yelled at Jared, scaring him away,” the officer wrote in the report.

The aide also said that Emfield later taunted the student and asked him to fight with what he said.

The aide told police that Emfield said he would call school resource officials if students touched him.

“(Assistant) … told Jared, ‘So do you,'” the official wrote. “Jared followed him and bumped into him near the brick wall near the outer door into the school. (Student) said Jared was close to him and he raised his forearm to try to create some space.”

The student allegedly touched Emfield and nudged him slightly, causing him to back up, when Emfield grabbed the student by the arm and pushed him against the brick wall.

“Jared threw him on the ground and sat on top of him,” the police report said. “(The student) said his head was resting on the door outside. He explained that the door was supporting him, pushing his head up and hurting his neck.”

According to reports, as Emfield sat on the student, the assistant stroked Emfield’s shoulder to get his attention and said Emfield could not treat the student like this.

“Jared looked at (the assistant) and said, ‘If you touch me again, I’ll break your arm,'” the police report said.

Once the student began to apologize, Emfield allegedly got off the student and made him stand up.

Police did not see any marks on the student’s neck or back, but said there was “some redness on his upper left shoulder blade”.

In March, Browning explained that Judo coach Emfield was defending himself. He said the student was assaulting his client and Emfield used a “gentle”, harmless technique designed to stop the bully from touching you.

Browning described Emfield as a “great teacher” and a “wonderful, kind person”. He said there are a lot of injustices in the public school system that don’t allow teachers to protect themselves. He believes the end result of the trial will be a favorable outcome for his client.

“All my kids have taken his karate classes. They have had a great experience with him, and he’s my karate teacher,” Browning said. “It’s unfortunate that we have an out-of-control child who has enough power in the (education) system to listen to (the child) and not the teacher.”

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