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HEIDELBERG, Germany — A Mannheim teacher and cheerleading coach arrested Wednesday for allegedly having sexual contact with teenage girls was fired Friday while he awaited legal proceedings in a Mannheim jail.

Sean O’Neal, 33, a physical education teacher and cheerleading coach at Mannheim High School for the past two years, was released two days after his arrest in front of 16 students at an on-base gym.

“Based on evidence and statements, school officials have decided to terminate his employment effective today,” said Dennis Bohannon, a spokesman for Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe.

O’Neal was being held in a pre-trial portion of the Mannheim prison, German authorities said. According to an e-mail from Andreas Grossmann, a Mannheim Prosecutors’ Office spokesman, O’Neal was to be charged with “sexual abuse of protection-ordered (pupil).”

Grossman did not say what the sexual abuse charge entailed or when the alleged incident occurred.

O’Neal first came to the school’s attention June 9, when someone told the school vice principal, Joe Molloy, that it was rumored O’Neal had had sexual contact with a student, Bohannon said.

Molloy didn’t tell the school principal, Sharon O’Donnell, until Monday, he said.

O’Donnell on Monday called Lt. Col. Melissa Sturgeon, U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim commander, and it was decided that Sturgeon would call the Criminal Investigation Command, Bohannon said.

CID began investigating, and on Tuesday informed school officials it was turning the matter over to German authorities for prosecution, Bohannon said.

O’Neal was arrested at work — clearing out sports equipment from a gym — while 16 students in the gym looked on, he said.

“But it was all done very nicely, without incident,” Bohannon said. He said O’Neal was not handcuffed.

CID could not be reached for comment.

O’Neal had been working for DODDS for two years exactly on the day he was fired — the last day he remained on a two-year probationary status — Bohannon said.

Teachers still on probationary status can be fired for misconduct or poor performance without union or other job protections, he said.

Bohannon said O’Neal is the only DODDS teacher in Europe to have been arrested within the last five years.

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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