Ocala, Florida — Daniel Pedalino, 48, of Ocala is now speaking out after being arrested on April 9, 2014 for allegedly threatening students at Hammett Bowen Elementary for bullying his daughter.
In nearly a two hour interview with Pedalino, he told Ocala Post that he is extremely grateful from the bottom of his heart for all of the support he has received from Marion County residents and some media outlets.
However, Pedalino said he is not impressed with the way this case has been handled by the arresting deputy, Deputy Simpson of the Marion county Sheriff’s Office, the state attorney’s office and school officials.
According to Pedalino, his encounter with the children at Hammett Bowen was incorrectly described in the arrest affidavit.
Pedalino said he went to the school as he has done in the past to have lunch with his daughter, and it was at her request. He said he sat and ate lunch with her and while he was eating he could see kids at the regular lunch table pointing and laughing.
The students were pointing and laughing because Pedalino has a deformity. He said he was born with a deformed right hand and he only has two fingers on that hand, which he barely has use of. He said during the entire lunch certain kids were standing up, pointing and clearly making fun of him as well as his daughter.
“Completely having no respect,” he said.
Pedalino said, “After lunch I exited the stage with my daughter and walked her over to her class. I was then approached by someone whom knows me and jokes with me when I visit the school, and told I could not be in that area. I said I was sorry and then I turned and addressed the children. I did not just get up, leave the stage and address the kids as Deputy Simpson claims in his report.”
“The public should also know that one of the bullies is the son of a law enforcement officer. The main bully at the table in fact. He is the one that was standing up and making hand gestures while I was eating with my daughter. School staff eventually walked over to him and said something to him,” said Pedalino.
According to Pedalino, when Deputy Simpson arrived at his home on the day of the incident he (Pedalino) greeted the deputy at the end of the driveway. Pedalino said the deputies demeanor was very rude and he clearly had a predetermined notion of what he wanted the outcome of the situation to be before he even arrived at his home.
Pedalino said that while Deputy Simpson was questioning him, he attempted to “trick” him (Pedalino) into stating his sole intention of going to the school was to harass and threaten the children. Pedalino said the deputy would ask the same question but in a different way, and he did that multiple times. Pedalino said he finally told the deputy, “Do not misinterpret the fact that my daughter asked my wife and I to have lunch with her at the school as we have done in the past…that’s it, period.”
Pedalino said, “I told the deputy ‘off the record’ that he was acting like my daughter was not the victim.” To which the deputy replied, “I am not your friend and I am not on your side.” Pedalino said the deputy also told him that nothing was “off the record” with him (the deputy). Pedalino said that the deputy made these statements less than 20 feet from his daughter.
“I also had to e-mail the sheriff’s office and ask for statements that were left out of the arrested affidavit to be included, because Deputy Simpson refused to include them. I had sent an e-mail that I wanted included as well, all of which I wanted as public record. Deputy Simpson was less than honest in his report,” said Pedalino
“During a phone conversation with Deputy Simpson he kept interrupting me and wouldn’t let me explain myself or get a word in. He kept talking over me as if I wasn’t even on the phone. Finally I told him to quit interrupting me and let me finish a sentence. Deputy Simpson then hung up on me.”
In a follow up report written by Deputy Simpson, he wrote, “He was getting upset, and during the conversation, I was trying to correct misinformation he had when he told me not to interrupt him again. Fearing the conversation was going to continue to be hostile in nature, I terminated the phone call.”
Pedalino said when he arrived at the jail after being arrested, the staff treated him like he should have known the routine. He said he was told, “You know the drill.” Pedalino said he told them he didn’t “know the drill” and would appreciate them not acting like he did. He said one of the corrections officers then told him that he “looked” like he “knew the drill” and “looked” like someone that is in jail often.
Pedalino does not have an arrest record, according the the Marion County Sheriff’s data base.
Pedalino told Ocala Post that this entire situation has opened his eyes into how the justice system treats people, all the way down to important facts intentionally being left out of police reports.
Pedalino’s daughter in an Honor Roll student and has never been in trouble at school. She has a perfect record.
Pedalino said after reporting the bullying he was contacted by Ms. Clifford, the school dean, via e-mail and told that she would address all parties involved. “However, instead of taking care of the situation, our daughter was ridiculed and accused of lying,” said Pedalino.
“I actually feared for my daughters safety after the e-mail,” he said.
Since his arrest, Pedalino has hired a private attorney.
Pedalino said, “I am very encouraged after the conversation I had with my attorney today, and I will be pleading not guilty; there is just too much dishonesty in this case.”
He said, “I keep excellent records, notes and have every e-mail that I need.”
“I have attended every single one of my children’s award ceremonies, and now, because of this situation I can no longer attend. I cannot go within 1000 feet of any school. I will fight this to the very end,” he said.
Pedalino said that his daughter is traumatized over the entire situation, but he is showing her support and assuring her that being bullied is not her fault nor is it her fault that he was arrested.
In a school that was named after Hammett Bowen Jr., a hero that threw himself on a grenade to save his own men, there is disgrace.
“Hammett Bowen Jr. is an American hero, and his name deserves better, it deserves to be on a school that will actually protect children from bullies, not allow it,” Said Pedalino.