A kindergarten teacher from Jackman who is charged with possessing pornographic pictures of children was the subject of a criminal investigation 13 years ago in New Hampshire, where parents reported that he photographed students undressing.

Rob P. Mocarsky, 41, was not charged in the investigation, which occurred while he was an elementary school teacher at Grantham Village School in Grantham, N.H. He retained his state teaching certificate.

After the investigation’s primary evidence disappeared, Mocarsky left the school in 1998. He left teaching for four years, until he was hired in 2002 to teach at the Forest Hills Consolidated School in Jackman.

He now faces felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of sexually explicit materials, both involving children younger than 12.

The charges stem from a report by a mother on Dec. 8 that Mocarsky had her daughter dress in a French maid’s costume and then photographed her. School officials put him on paid leave that day.

Maine State Police say they later found hundreds of pornographic photographs of children on Mocarsky’s home computer.

Phone calls to Mocarsky on Thursday were not returned.

The investigation in New Hampshire — and the disappearance of the evidence — is still fresh in the mind of the town’s retired police chief.

Russell Lary spent 20 years as chief of the Grantham Police Department, including the time when Mocarsky was investigated. “I remember vividly,” he said in a phone interview Thursday.

When Mocarsky started working at the 176-student elementary school, he began something new: school plays. After one rehearsal, Lary said, he saw a warning sign: A parent mentioned offhand that Mocarsky had taken photographs of students as they got ready for their performance.

Soon after, another parent told the school that Mocarsky, who taught a combined first- and second-grade class, had photographed students dressed in their underwear and changing into their costumes. “We questioned some of the kids, and they say, ‘Yeah, he does that all the time,’ ” Lary said.

That’s when the criminal investigation began.

School administrators suspended Mocarsky, according to an article published June 13, 1998, in the Valley News of White River Junction, Vt.

Investigators in Grantham seized Mocarsky’s computer and camera, but Mocarsky had already mailed the camera’s film to a processing center in Pennsylvania, Lary said.

When the envelope returned from the processor, Lary said, it was ripped, and empty. Police and postal workers searched, but never found the film.

Police found no evidence on Mocarsky’s computer, he said.

Without evidence, “there was no criminal offense at the time, so he wasn’t charged,” Lary said.

Judith Fillion, director of the credentialing bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Education, said Mocarsky’s teaching certification expired on June 30, 1998, just a couple of weeks after his employment was suspended at the Grantham Village School.

Lary’s recollection aligns with what a teacher’s aide in Grantham remembers.

Bridget Crowley-Brown had children in the school in the late 1990s, and said she directed Odyssey of the Mind, an after-school academic program, with Mocarsky.

When he started working in the district in 1995, she and her husband often had Mocarsky over for dinner, since he was new to the area, she said. But “it all blew up” after the report that “he was taking photographs of the children changing in and out of costumes,” she said.

After police seized his computer, the school staff never saw Mocarsky again, Crowley-Brown said. “I don’t know, in the end, exactly what happened,” she said.

The effect of the investigation is still felt in Grantham, a town of 2,500.

“Our community is very small and close. Neighbors were against neighbors in this. People were angry,” Crowley-Brown said. “To this day, there are people in this community that believe this didn’t happen.”

It’s unclear how Mocarsky left Grantham; his personnel file from 1998 could not be found this week.

Keith Pfeifer, superintendent of the Grantham School District, found that Mocarsky’s file listed him as a permanent substitute teacher in 1995-96 and a permanent teacher in 1996-97. There was no information for 1998, Pfeifer said Thursday.

There was no mention of how Mocarsky left, just that he taught in the school. “I have nothing in this file to indicate there was a problem,” said Pfeifer, who has been superintendent in Grantham for two years.

While it’s possible the file was lost when the Grantham school district separated from a larger district around 1998, the lack of available information is frustrating, he said.

“It’s better to record those things,” he said. “Sometimes it will come back to bite you.” A phone call to Gordon Schnare, who was superintendent at the time of the investigation, was not returned.

Mocarsky entered the Peace Corps after 1998 and completed his service, according to the Boston regional office, which did not have details about where he served or when.

Former Jackman Superintendent Dick Curtis became aware of the investigation in New Hampshire after Mocarsky was hired in 2002, said the current superintendent, John Davis.

There was “fairly significant communication” between Jackman and Grantham at the time, said Davis, but “you just don’t remove someone on unsubstantiated allegations.”

“People need to know the previous administration did do their due diligence, found that they had only accusations,” Davis said.

Mocarsky’s attorney, Robert Sandy Jr., noted Wednesday that Mocarsky has no criminal record. Sandy had not seen the photographs that police say were found on Mocarsky’s computer in Jackman because he has not received them from the District Attorney’s Office.

Mocarsky received a national Milken Family Foundation Award in 2004, in part for his program in which students dressed in costumes for learning purposes.

“The use of costumes is something that was involved in the creative work that he did in the kindergarten classroom, role-playing if you will, something that would spark the imagination,” Sandy said. “The use of costumes is not anything that was unusual or inappropriate.”

 


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