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The investigation into Heath Horton started when a parent of a former Rocky River student accused him of drinking alcohol and smoking with her son.
CLEVELAND — **CONTENT WARNING: Some of the contents of this story contain explicit details and graphic language
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office has announced that it won’t seek felony charges against the Rocky River intermediate school principal under investigation for his conduct with former students.
In a letter sent from Assistant Prosecutor Fallon Radigan to Rocky River Law Director Michael O’Shea, the county prosecutor’s office determined there was “insufficient admissible evidence” to support a Grand Jury presentation in the case of Dr. Heath Horton.
Radigan said prosecutors reviewed a 65-page police report, extracts from Horton’s cell phone, screenshots from witness phones, and written witness statements. “Based on the content received, the conduct does not rise to the level of a felony,” Radigan wrote.
The case is being sent back to O’Shea’s office to determine if any misdemeanor violations may have taken place. 3News has reached out to O’Shea for reaction and will add to this story.
The investigation into Horton began in June, when the mother of a former Rocky River High School student said Horton drank alcohol and smoked cigars with her son while serving as an assistant principal at the school.
Text messages sent between September of 2019 and June of 2020 showed both the student and Horton (referred to as “H-Dawg” in the phone) would frequently ask each other to hang out while smoking cigars and drinking alcohol at Horton’s home. After discovering the texts, the mother contacted another parent in the district who then found out her own son had engaged in the same type of behavior with Horton and “a few other friends” whom he did not name.
The second student said he and the others stopped going to Horton’s house because things “got weird,” although he did not specify what that meant. Per police, the messages also appeared to show Horton asking to pick the students up down the street from his residence to avoid getting caught, since he admitted he was “not allowed to hangout with his students.”
Earlier this month, the Rocky River Police Department released a redacted 66-page report detailing a long series of text messages between the 42-year-old Horton and 17 former students with ages ranging from 17 to 23. In those messages, Horton said “we can never share our relationship through education.” He said he had to be viewed “as their uncle or family friend.”
From June 27, 2022 to May 11, 2023, Horton sends several text messages to a male asking for sexual videos. One interaction outlined in the report has Horton saying, “Don’t tease me with a three-second video. I want a longer video.” He adds, “Get me a good nut on face or ass vid/pic.”
The report also mentions a “Boom Room,” described as an extra bedroom at Horton’s house. Horton allegedly brought former students to his house, including minors, to drink alcohol and smoke cigars. In several text messages, Horton is seen propositioning people to “visit the Boom.”
Horton arrived in Rocky River in 2017 following stints as a teacher and administrator in South Euclid-Lyndhurst and Brooklyn, and has been Kensington’s principal since July of 2021. Court records do not show a prior criminal record.
3News’ Neil Fischer, Tyler Carey, and Matt Rascon contributed to this story