(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- A Florida high school principal faces two misdemeanor charges for practicing therapeutic hypnosis without a license on students, three of whom have since died.
George Kenney, 51, was known to hypnotize students to help them achieve better test scores and peak athletic performance, despite being warned by his superiors to discontinue the practice. The principal allegedly defied those orders.
Kenney, who was reassigned to an administrative job with the Sarasota County School District, will resign from his job, effective June 30, when his contract expires, Scott Ferguson, a spokesperson for the district, told ABC News.
"He was well regarded by many and I'm sure will be missed by many," Ferguson said, adding that the district plans to take no further action.
Kenney's use of the practice came under scrutiny after Kenney acknowledged he had hypnotized Wesley McKinley, 16, the day before the teenager killed himself in April. Brittany Palumbo, 17, killed herself in May of last year, five months after her session. Marcus Freeman, 16, the school's star quarterback who was treated by Kenney, died in a car crash.
Mark Zimmerman, who is Kenney's lawyer, told ABC News last year that no one has alleged that there is a link between the hypnosis of the three students and their deaths.
"Dr. Kenney had no indications that these were students who would take their own lives," he said in reference to Wesley McKinley and Brittany Palumbo. "It is a coincidence that of the many students he was working with, two had other things going on in their lives."
An internal investigation found the principal, who is not licensed but has taken some hypnosis courses, had hypnotized as many as 75 people -- students, parents and staff -- on school grounds.
Kenney initially denied using the technique on Palumbo and Freeman, two of the teens who died, when interviewed by a private investigator hired by the district. He later admitted he had treated both students..
If convicted, the two misdemeanor charges could put the former principal behind bars for up to one year.
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