By William McGuinness

NORTH PORT, Fla. (CBS TAMPA) — North Port police have charged the town’s high school principal with two counts of second-degree criminal misdemeanors after students he hypnotized ended up committing suicide.

Over six months, the North Port Police Department conducted around 70 interviews with students claiming to have been hypnotized by Dr. George Kenney and 100 adults either from among the school’s staff or parent community after receiving a complaint from the Florida Department of Health Services.

In documents provided to CBS Tampa detailing the Sarasota School Department’s internal investigation, Kenney routinely hypnotized students in one-on-one sessions and in group settings. They often involved the school athletics teams or ROTC programs.

Kenney told investigators it allowed students to relax, improved their performance in tests and helped some with anger issues.

Documents show, however, that Kenney occasionally raised tempers and eyebrows within the school’s community.

He was limited to hypnotizing students during psychology classes and then only with parent-signed permission slips and another teacher in the classroom — conditions insisted upon in 2009 by Steven Cantes, executive director of high schools for the Sarasota County School System.

Kenney’s many supporters expressed gratitude for his help and admiration of his character throughout the report.

They were not enough, however, when Kenney eventually admitted to hypnotizing two students who committed suicide shortly after one-on-one sessions that were explicitly against Cantes’ orders.

Kenney was placed on administrative leave following the 2011 school year.

“I’ll do anything to help my students succeed,” Kenney told investigators.

Police said he went far enough to break to law and now faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

He submitted a letter announcing his retirement in December. Contrary to other reports, he has not resigned, according to Sarasota schools spokesman Scott Ferguson.

Ferguson added that Kenney was reassigned from his position at the school and will use accumulated vacation time. His last day will be in March, though his contract expires in June.

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Comments (24)
  1. Tom Tucker says:

    Great! Let’s flip our lids whenever anyone prays in school, but, then turn right around and allow a charlatan to hypnotize our kids. Anyone still wondering why America has slipped into the abyss?

  2. Fred Zarguna says:

    Did he also give them homeopathic remedies for their illnesses? That would be about as effective…

  3. Rowie says:

    Any evidence hypnosis leads to suicide?

    1. P says:

      WHO CARES…. He is Hypnotizing Students… That is CREEPY…. and He did it ALONE WITH STUDENTS… What a Freak… There will be more about this… I am sure he “Helped” Them NOT remember also…

    2. Daisy says:

      “Any evidence hypnosis leads to suicide?”

      Nope. Nevertheless, he’ll spend time in jail. If he’d have had sex w/the poor kids, he’d be at home collecting full pay and pension.

  4. Gibbs Bentley says:

    “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality” ~ H. L. Mencken


    1. DONNA WHITELEY says:


      1. C.Wright.Thru.U. says:

        Of all the people who have graduated from any type/level of education with a financial/economics focus, how many were aware of the national and/or global economic issues with any foresight for prevention, beforehand?

  5. Jay Jones says:

    Absolutely stupid. The doctor would NEVER suggest to his client that suicide was a solution. If ANYTHING this kids DISOBEYED the doctor in committing suicide. Stupid DA. What an idiot.

  6. Kreskin Light says:

    “Principal Charged After Hypnotizing Students Who Committed Suicide.”
    Sounds like a good trick. They had already committed suicide, and he was still able to hypnotize them. Maybe he should have hypnotized them to get better.

    1. Ilham says:

      Tampa ditneifely does not deserve a team, that is for sure. They’re right in the fact that when the post season starts, they’ll sell out with a bunch of fans who will all claim to have been at every game. Unfortunately, they signed a ridiculous lease with that stadium and can’t move but any city would be an improvement over Tampa. But sport events have almost become something the rich can only afford, especially in this economy. Was this answer helpful?

  7. Local Physician says:

    Doubtful. Creepiness does not imply causality. The US Teen Suicide rate is just under 1/10,000 per year. This fellow allegedly hypnotized >100-200 kids. If his craft was so dangerous, don’t you think that we would have an epidemic of suicide on our hands? More likely that this is an unfortunate coincidence and he is the chosen scapegoat. It is a tragedy that these two kids made such a bad decision, but the greater tragedy is that the DA chooses to prosecute. The DA should recall what happened to the sensationalist DA that chose to prosecute the Duke Lacrosse Team. He was disbarred and essentially run out of town for abuse of power by practicing sensationalist litigation. This will become a modern day Salem Witch Trial, probably bankrupting this teacher in the process.

    1. Darrell says:

      You are right on target. Further, I bet many of the 100-200 kids he worked with came to him with difficulties like bad grades, social interaction issues, or depression and such. That would make it even more likely he worked with a kid or two who happen to commit suicide. Also, suicide has a copy cat effect in a community. If one teen does it, others who were considering doing it are much more likely to try. This IS a witch hunt. But I doubt this time the DA is disbarred, because the average Duke U. student’s parents are rather well off and can afford a good defense. Not to say the Duke students did anything wrong, they were wrongly prosecuted, but they had good lawyers.

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  8. That Guy says:

    How dare he hypnotize our kids. Now Johnny go home and watch TV!!

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  9. Wayne Johnson says:

    In no way shape or form did his Hypnotizing those kids cause them in any way to commit suicide. I feel sorry for the uneducated of you that are throwing around comments about something you have no knowledge of. Hypnosis can not make anyone do anything that they do not want to do. All Hypnosis is self Hypnosis, the Hypnotherapist is there as a guide only.

    Everyone that has posted on here has been hypnotized at one point. Have you ever been engrossed in a book and lost track of time, ever drive home from work and when you get there you barely remember the trip. You were in a hypnotic trance, do you think at those times had someone been sitting beside you telling you to commit suicide or anything else for that matter that you would have done it. NO you would not.

    It amazes me and saddens me that people in this country still look at things like hypnotherapy, & as 1 mentioned homeopathic remedies and get scared and start spouting off at the mouth. Hypnosis has been around for over 4000 years and is used by some of the smartest and wealthiest people in the world, so before you go putting down something you might consider going and doing a little reading. Get your nose out of the T.V. and read a book. As for the homeopathic remedies, yea those dangerous plants, we wouldn’t want to put that into our kids bodies, with all those vitamins, and minerals and such. Hell no not me I’d much rather take my kid to the Dr. and put him on a psychoactive drug (which is stronger than cocaine) like Ritalin.

    Get your head out of your arse and wake up.

  10. margot says:

    Hypnotism is very dangerous. It can open spiritual doors that sometimes the practitioner is not even aware of; one might be healed of one problem only to let in a flood of others much worse. Never willingly allow anyone access to your mind besides yourself and God.

    Someone hypnotized me, had their own secret agenda, and almost succeeded in ruining my life until I realized that the only thing that could save me was the healing and redeeming power of Jesus Christ. He is the only solution. Hypnotism is a form of witchcraft, charming, and soothsaying. Beware!

    -Someone who learned the hard way

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