Former Kennedale mayor set to go on trial July 9

Posted Monday, Dec. 10, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Former Kennedale Mayor Bryan Lankhorst is scheduled to go on trial July 9 on four counts of offensive or provocative physical contact stemming from complaints made May 17 by sixth-grade girls at an Arlington elementary school.

The jury trial was set last week after a pretrial hearing in Arlington Municipal Court, said Melinda Richardson, the court's customer service supervisor.

Lankhorst pleaded not guilty in June through his attorney, Mark Daniel of Fort Worth. He is accused of touching the students in ways that made them uncomfortable while serving as a substitute teacher at Miller Elementary School.

Arlington police issued two Class C misdemeanor citations May 29. If convicted, Lankhorst would face a fine of $566 on each count.

Lankhorst, 54, resigned from office May 19, a week after winning a fourth term as Kennedale mayor. He was unopposed in the race.

Several sixth-graders told the acting principal May 17 that Lankhorst, a real estate agent who has grandchildren, rubbed their back and shoulders and then moved his hand lower, making them feel uncomfortable.

They also said he talked about the process of human reproduction and statistics on teen pregnancy. Arlington elementary schools do not provide lessons on human reproduction.

Accompanied by their mothers, two of the sixth-graders discussed their complaints against Lankhorst with the Star-Telegram on May 22.

Some of the information they provided was incorrect, the school district said, including that Lankhorst administered a STAAR exam to them that morning and that their regular teacher was subbing for the principal that day.

School district spokeswoman Amy Casas said that the test they referred to was an end-of-year writing evaluation and that the substitute principal was a veteran administrator with 25 years of experience.

The girls also said that after Lankhorst was informed of the complaints against him, he was allowed, visibly angry, back into their classroom, where he walked among the desks flicking a Swiss army knife open and closed. That was not the case, Casas said.

"The substitute was informed of the accusations in private by the principal in her office," she said. "He was then asked to leave the campus, which he did so promptly."

At that point, he was put on a list barring him from working at any school in the district, she said. He resigned from the district altogether rather than cooperate with an administrative investigation that would have included a written statement followed by an interview, Casas said.

In June, Daniel declined to comment on the case except to say, "I'm working on the matter, and I'm optimistic about a favorable resolution."

Under the city charter, Mayor Pro Tem John Clark was elevated to mayor. His current term expires in 2014.

Patrick M. Walker, 817-983-8080

Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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