Former North Port High School principal Dr. George Kenney walked into a Venice courtroom with a clean record Tuesday afternoon. By the time he walked out, he was on probation.
"I'm relieved that this is over and my family and I can move on," said Kenney.
Kenney pleaded no contest to two charges of unlawful practice of hypnosis as the result of a plea agreement, waiving his right to a trial.
Last year, Kenney was at the center of a storm of controversy when three of his students died after being hypnotized by the popular principal.
One young man died in a car accident while two others committed suicide, one of them just a day after he was hypnotized.
"He's a trained educator, not a hypnotist. He should have been referring the students and staff to trained professionals, that's the concern," said assistant state attorney Art Jackman.
Kenney will be on probation for a year, will be required to do 50 hours of community service and pay $50 for the cost of the investigation
After the hearing, Kenney expressed regret to his former school.
"I apologize for the media coverage, and the negative publicity that it generated for the school and I wish the school the best of luck," said Kenney.
Kenney is no longer principal at North Port, he was transferred to work at school board headquarters and will retire in March.
The Sarasota school district says he will remain on the job until he retires despite Tuesday's court decision.
While he's happy his criminal charges are behind him, Kenney and his lawyer stopped short of saying hypnotizing students was wrong.
"Dr. Kenney's aim was to help students," said attorney Mark Zimmerman.
Kenney cannot practice hypnosis for therapeutic purposes during his yearlong probation.
He said he's not sure if he will continue after he's off probation.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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