May 18, 2013

Westbrook teacher accused of assaulting student

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK – A social studies teacher at Westbrook High School who allegedly grabbed a student by the arm and verbally threatened him Thursday has been charged with two misdemeanors and placed on administrative leave, police and school officials said Friday.

Christopher Conroy was given a court summons charging him with misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor criminal threatening, said Michael Pardue, the city's police chief.

Conroy was put on paid administrative leave by school officials Thursday afternoon, said Marc Gousse, the city's school superintendent. He will remain on leave while an investigation is done.

Pardue said police were called to the high school about 1:30 p.m. Thursday and told that the incident had occurred about 11:50 a.m.

Pardue said he didn't know what led to the alleged incident between Conroy and the male student, but it was reported by school officials.

Police were told that Conroy grabbed the student's arm and made a "verbal comment" that was threatening. At that point, police decided to issue a summons to Conroy, Pardue said.

He said he wasn't sure what court date Conroy was given. An attempt to reach Conroy by email Friday was unsuccessful.

Gousse said school officials heard about the incident Thursday afternoon and put Conroy on leave. That's standard procedure while school officials investigate, Gousse said.

Gousse said he did not know how long Conroy would be on leave.

The incident is the latest case in which a Westbrook school official or employee faced charges.

Dereck Gilman, a special-education technician at Westbrook Middle School, resigned in April and has since been indicted on charges of unlawful sexual touching and sexual abuse of a child.

He's accused of engaging in sex acts with a 17-year-old Westbrook High School student.

Suzanne Joyce, a member of the Westbrook School Committee, has been charged with hindering the apprehension or prosecution of Gilman.

The indictment said Joyce obstructed Andrew Keirstead, a teacher's assistant at Westbrook High School who was investigating Gilman.

But the case file on Joyce in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court doesn't provide more details on how Joyce allegedly obstructed Keirstead.

 

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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