JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two years ago, Douglas Bailey's world was turned upside down. The elementary school teacher was arrested after a student claimed the teacher had touched him inappropriately.
"It was not true," Bailey said. "My name was placed on this social website for child predators, it was not true."
Bailey has been mired in a legal fight since his arrests. In his Clay County home, he is surrounded by a ream of legal paper that details the issue.
"I feel lost," Bailey said. "That's honestly how I feel."
Bailey said an ankle monitor was held captive in his home, which cost him $400 a month. His mind was constantly occupied with the thoughts of the allegations against him.
"I had the support of my school and my family," he said. "That is the only way I have survived for these two and a half years. I lost everything."
A third grader made the accusations. The grandmother of another student claim she saw the act. Then, her grandson said he too was touched in an improper way.
Bailey said none of it was true, but he would be deemed guilty until proven innocent.
"I did everything that I was supposed to do as a teacher and protocol when it comes to being around children and I was never alone," he said.
Fast forward to Summer of 2017. The former teacher received notice via a letter that the charges had been dropped. The State's Attorney's Office had decided "Not to Prosecute."
"I feel like I have just come out of a terrible, terrible nightmare and I am trying to rebuild my life and I just don't know how," he said.
The nine-year classroom veteran now wonders if he will ever be back in the classroom. He has been cleared of the charges, but there is still an arrest record.
"I want to go back, but I doubt that is possible now," he said. "They've destroyed my life."
This is the first time he's spoken about the case. Why now? He feels he was the target of an overzealous prosecutor.
"They drop this case just like that and I am suppose to pick up my life and start all over again... I am angry now," he said.
Bailey said he moved to Florida to become of teacher.
"I loved being being a teacher," he said. "I love my school and everybody there, and those kids and I've lost it all, and now I realize it."
The State's Attorney's Office files on the case shows the decision to "Nolle Pros" was based on the “improbability of conviction.”
What changed? The files revealed Witness One's testimony was "inconsistent" with previous statements. And the grandmother of Witness One made multiple statements that could be interpreted as a bias against the Bailey.
Witness One now denies seeing any touching and two other children who claimed they were touched denied it happened.
However, according to the court file, the child victim's statement remains consistent: "He has never wavered and is steadfast that the defendant, on multiple, occasions molested him."
The police were notified of the decision to drop the charges and agreed. The victim's family was also notified and disagreed.
Bailey said he is going to rebuild his life one day at a time. His first effort is to have his arrest record expunge, not that the charges against him no longer exist.
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