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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Apr. 26, 2018 4 months ago

CANDO 2 supports Jeff Boyle despite resurfaced allegations involving inappropriate student-teacher relationships

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CANDO 2 founders call the anonymous redistribution of his personnel file as a 'cowardly act' meant to distract.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

As allegations resurface that former Ormond Beach City Commissioner and current CANDO 2 spokesperson Jeff Boyle had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, kissed a second 18-year-old student, and wrote romantic letters to a third 18-year-old student, all when he was a teacher in the 1980s and 1990s at Seabreeze High School, CANDO 2’s organizers stand by him as their spokesman.

Boyle’s personnel file has been mailed to a small number of CANDO 2 members, including founders Julie and Ken Sipes, as well as delivered anonymously to the Ormond Beach Observer. The file contains an administrative complaint against Boyle detailing three separate incidents in 1981, 1989 and 1992, involving inappropriate conduct toward SHS senior female students. The file contains testimony by the victims and other witnesses, and photocopies of letters Boyle wrote to a student in 1989.

After a school district investigation in 1989, Chief Personnel Officer Duane Busse wrote a letter to Boyle to “severely reprimand him” and warn him that any “future unprofessional conduct” would result in a recommendation for termination. Three years later, after another relationship was brought to light, the district recommended termination. Boyle resigned.  

To the Sipeses, the resurfacing of the file after three decades is a “cowardly act” meant to distract from CANDO 2’s mission of smarter development and environmental protection.

“This is intimidation — bullying,” Ken Sipes said. “We stand by Jeff 100%. He’s a good guy.”

When they received the file, it made them angry, Julie Sipes said. To them, it had nothing to do with Boyle, but everything to do with whoever sent it. She said they were disgusted at receiving his file.

“It’s old news,” Julie Sipes said. “We feel like it was already dealt with. We’ve all moved on from that.”

Boyle said his file has been popping back up since he began his political campaign in 1995, three years after he resigned as a teacher. He said there are two sets of forces that want to discredit him — the development community and political groups.

“Stuff has been floating around for a long time,” Boyle said. “It’s all fiction.”

 

1981 allegation

In an administrative complaint dated July 23, 1993, Betty Castor, commissioner of education for the Florida Department of Education, summarized the district’s findings. She alleged that Boyle engaged in an inappropriate relationship with student Robin Meyer throughout the 1980-1981 school year, including purchasing alcohol for her, kissing her and telling her he loved her and having sex with her. Boyle later married Meyer in 1984 when she graduated from college. She and Boyle divorced in 1987.

In an interview on April 24 with the Ormond Beach Observer, Boyle said Meyer’s testimony against him was false. He said he never had sex with her when she was his student. He said she must have been coerced by Busse, and “she gave Busse whatever he wanted just to make him go away.” 

 

1989 allegation

The complaint also alleges that Boyle was “inappropriate and unprofessional” toward a female student in 1989, sending her letters, giving her a tape cassette with “sexually suggestive” songs, and telling her they could “open the doors of their friendship” on June 1, 1989, after graduation.

One of the letters Boyle wrote to one of the students in 1989 begins: “I, too, am more afraid not to love. If the choice is to feel pain or to feel nothing, I’ll take the pain.”

Boyle said the teen was having some personal trouble, and he  wrote the letters because he wanted to gain her confidence so he could help her.

Later in the interview with the Observer, Boyle said, “The notes were intended also to keep them at bay. I didn’t want any contact with these kids.”

Another passage of one of the letters reads: “You were watched first semester, from the same distance. Magic moments of feeling a presence that one thought would always be secret.”

Boyle also wrote in a separate note to the student: “Whatever roads we travel, or other friendships we may have, I will always be there whenever you need me, will always be waiting...just tell me how much or how little you need. Are we Beauty and the Beast?”

When asked if the “Beauty and the Beast” reference indicated it was a love letter, Boyle said he had never seen the movie.

“I just know there’s a beasty guy and a beauty queen,” Boyle said. “I’m sure as heck not going to try to start a relationship with [her].”

In regard to the cassette tape he gave the student, Boyle said he handed it over because the student’s friend asked him to make her one for graduation. He said the girls had been stalking him and watching him make the tape for himself in his home, so he gave them a copy of it to appease them.

The list of songs in the tape included Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me,” Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and Tracy Chapman’s “For My Lover.” Boyle said he was not thinking about the girls when he made the tape.

However, in the letters, he wrote that all the songs were carefully chosen. “All probably say the same thing, and convey complex and quiet thoughts to give you the same peace and understanding that I have at last come to know, and carry in my heart.”

In the Observer interview, Boyle said, “I had no business writing notes or giving songs that could be interpreted the way they’re being interpreted. I was out of line on that.”

At the time of the letters and the tape, the student approached another teacher, Jack Surette, about her interactions with Boyle. Surette reported it to the district, saying, “I’m personally very disturbed regarding this matter and think that the school system and I should take a stand regarding Mr. Boyle and the seriousness of this problem.”

Boyle told the Observer that he never should have written the letters, but he maintained that they they were innocent.

 

1992 allegation

Busse’s investigation in 1989 led to the reprimand and a threat of termination. Three years later, a third incident was brought to light.

The third allegation involves a female student in the 1991-1992 school year who reported to the district that Boyle kissed her, told her he was interested in her and that he liked her more than a friend, advising her not to come see him at his shop, The Baseball Card Exchange, until after she graduated. He also gave her a picture of himself, a sand dollar and a basketball card on her birthday.

The student gave a written statement that Boyle let her into his shop where he allegedly grabbed her by the arms, kissed her and asked her how her mother would feel about that.

“That was totally fabricated,” Boyle told the Observer. “The student had come to the shop on a Sunday. I made her leave.”

 

Coerced or credible?

Boyle believes Meyer and the other two girls were coerced into giving testimony against him by Busse, with whom he had “butted heads” in 1984 after he requested the investigation of four Seabreeze teachers be moved off campus.

However, in Busse’s 1992 investigative report of the allegations, he concluded that “all the young women providing testimony in this investigation are credible. It is significant that not one of them sought the investigator out or in any other way evidenced a desire to get Mr. Boyle.”

The report continues with testimony given by the student who received the letters in 1989. She wrote: “The reason I am writing this now is that I have carried this around for three years and have heard that an incident involving another student has occurred. I want to try to prevent another young girl from going through the emotional trauma that I have gone through.”

Busse, who was the director of professional standards in 1992 when he concluded the investigation, wrote that the evidence “strongly suggests a pattern of behavior on Mr. Boyle’s part that he appears to be either unwilling to or incapable of controlling.” 

 

‘Mere distractions’

Boyle’s school personnel file was distributed when he ran for City Commission in 1995, 1997 and 2005, during the original CANDO referendum push in 2006 and when he ran for Ormond Beach mayor in 2007. He warned the Sipeses that it would be made public again, most likely, now that he was involved in CANDO 2.

While the Sipeses agreed that the allegations are serious, and while they do not condone any alleged misconduct, they feel Boyle has served his community well since then.

“He’s a gifted guy,” Julie Sipes said. “He is good-hearted. He’s got nothing to gain from this, and I mean, he’s flawed, but we’re all flawed.”

Ken Sipes said the personnel file is not relevant to CANDO 2’s current issues and that the distribution of the file is not productive for the city’s democracy.

“It hurts our community because if you’re going to use these kinds of tactics, it discourages people from wanting to get involved, and we need people to be involved in our community,” Ken Sipes said.

Boyle said that if the allegations had been true, he would have moved to Montana and wouldn’t have run for office here.

“I know who I am,” Boyle said, adding, “I don’t think anybody in this community has any questions about my character.”

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