BENTON CITY -- Principal Wayne Barrett of Kiona-Benton City High School will not be charged with a crime for having a pocket knife while demanding a student take off a rosary.
The Benton County Prosecutor's Office concluded that Barrett acted inappropriately but not criminally.
"We believe that his use of the knife was inappropriate under the circumstances. However, the inappropriate use of the knife does not meet the definition of the relevant crime," Deputy Prosecutor Amy Harris wrote in a decision released Wednesday.
Barrett in late August told student Roel Corral, 18, to take off his rosary, then showed the student a pocket knife, reportedly saying, "One of these blades could cut that off."
Rosaries are not allowed in Benton City schools because they are used by gangs as identifiers.
District officials disciplined Barrett for the incident by suspending him for three days without pay and ordering him to undergo sensitivity training, school documents show.
The statute quoted in Harris' decision says it is unlawful for a person to display a knife in a way that shows intent to intimidate or is alarming to the safety of the other person.
But Corral told police he thought Barrett "was playing around," Harris said in the decision.
And Barrett told police he did not intend to intimidate the student with the knife.
"The victim told detectives after that, 'I was kind of laughing. So I put it (the rosary) in my shirt,' " said the decision.
The detective asked Corral why he laughed and Corral reportedly said he thought Barrett was playing around, so he and his friends walked away.
During the investigation, prosecutors offered to give Corral another chance to explain how he felt when Barrett showed him the knife.
A meeting with Corral was scheduled, then postponed and finally canceled by Corral through his attorney, said the document.
Harris wrote that she had to base her decision on the initial interviews, which didn't show that Corral was alarmed for his safety.