Janitor not returning anytime soon

Restraints regarding alleged assault pending

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— A Soroco School District janitor who is on paid administrative leave for allegedly assaulting four middle school students will not be returning to work anytime soon.

On Wednesday morning, Chris Neil's attorney withdrew a motion to modify a restraining order that currently prohibits Neil from setting foot in Soroco High School.

Neil's attorney, Sandy Horner, withdrew the motion in Routt County Judge James Garrecht's courtroom.

"The idea to modify the restraining order was to allow Mr. Neil to work at the high school on the weekends and after school hours on the weekdays," Horner said. "At this time, he feels more comfortable staying away from the high school."

If Neil would violate the restraining order the court has imposed against him, he could face a mandatory year in jail.

Neil "does not want to risk running into any of the kids he is restrained from," Horner said.

Neil, 49, was placed on administrative leave with pay Feb. 9. That was the day he allegedly assaulted four middle school students and harassed a fifth student.

Neil was arrested and jailed but later posted a $750 bond.

Neil apparently was upset at the middle school students after toilets in a high school bathroom were purposely clogged with pencils.

Horner claims the bathroom was trashed and there was urine on the floor.

The students, who deny the vandalism, were in the bathroom when Neil came in and ordered the boys out.

Neil allegedly shoved a 14-year-old boy into a wall, grabbed a 13-year-old boy by the neck and pushed two 13-year-old boys out of the bathroom.

Neil also allegedly harassed a 13-year-old boy, who was walking into the bathroom at the time the janitor was ordering the other boys out.

Neil has been charged with four counts of third-degree assault and one count of harassment, which are all misdemeanors.

Soroco High School Principal Richard Coleman was disappointed to learn of Wednesday's development.

"We would like to have Chris working for us," he said. "He does a good job.

"The modification of the restraining order was something we would have liked done. It would have minimized his contact with the students."

Because of Neil's absence, the Soroco School District has had pay the 15-year employee's salary as well as hire an additional employee, Coleman said.

A part-time employee, who assisted Neil, is now working full-time and another person was hired to fill the part-time position, he said. Neil's future with the school district is not known at this time, Coleman said.

"I am sure what happens in court will have a bearing on it," he said.

Neil's case has been continued to 10 a.m. May 9

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