UNITY — A Winslow man who is a teacher and softball coach at Waldo County schools has been accused of sexually assaulting a female student during school hours.

Michael Gagnon, 46, an automotive technology instructor at Waldo County Technical Center, allegedly left his class to go on “test drives” of vehicles students were working on with the 17-year-old girl, and that’s when the assaults took place, according to an affidavit by Waldo County Sheriff’s Deputy Darrin Moody.

Gagnon also allegedly assaulted the girl, a Belfast High School student, at his home in Winslow and a motel in Bangor, police said.

Gagnon was arrested Friday on a charge of gross sexual assault and is being held at the Waldo County Jail on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 in property, according to Waldo County District Attorney Geoff Rushlau.

Under Maine law, it’s a Class C crime for someone employed by a school district who has “instructional, supervisory or disciplinary authority over” a student under 18 to have sexual contact with the student.

Gagnon has been a teacher at the technical center for 15 years and is on administrative leave, according to center director Chris Downing.

Gagnon is also a softball coach at Mount View High School in Thorndike, where he has also been put on leave, according to Regional School Unit 3 Superintendent Heather Perry.

According to the affidavit, Gagnon initially denied having sexual contact with the girl, but later told police that they “leaned on each other emotionally during difficult times they were going through.”

While the girl was having problems with her boyfriend, Gagnon told police, they began a physical relationship. He said they began having sex in the back seat of his car, including during school hours, when Gagnon would tell his class that they were taking the vehicles being worked on for a test drive.

The technical center, which is in Waldo, offers an alternative curriculum focused on trade skills for students at Mount View, the Belfast-area Regional School Unit 20 and the Searsport school district.

Officials at RSU 3 initially contacted police Thursday after hearing talk among students that Gagnon was having sex with a student at the technical center, where students from that district as well as Belfast-based Regional School Unit 20 can take classes.

In 2011, nearly 50 percent of assaults reported to Maine’s sexual violence service providers related to child sexual abuse, according to the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Nationwide, nearly 70 percent of all sexual assault reports involve a victim under the age of 18, according to the coalition.

 

 

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Jesse Scardina contributed to this story.

Rachel Ohm can be contacted at 612-2368 or at:

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