The chairwoman of the School Administrative District 6 board said Friday that an educational technician had stopped working for the district four days before he was charged with sexually assaulting a student in another district.

In a statement, Rebecca Bowley said the SAD 6 board was notified of the allegations against Zachariah Sherburne, the son of Superintendent Frank Sherburne, only after he stopped working for the district on March 11.

Bowley did not specify when the board was notified and did not respond to questions, including whether Frank Sherburne had a role in his son’s hiring, which appears to be a violation of the district’s anti-nepotism policy.

Zachariah Sherburne, 23, is charged with gross sexual assault, a felony, and sexual abuse of a minor, a misdemeanor. According to an arrest affidavit, on Feb. 12 he engaged in “a sexual act” with a 16-year-old girl, who was a student in SAD 55 at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram, where Sherburne was employed as an education technician. Because Sherburne was employed there, he had “disciplinary authority” over her, the court document alleges.

Sherburne’s attorney, Allan Lobozzo of Lewiston, said his client was never the girl’s teacher and would not have had disciplinary authority over her.

Sherburne admitted to a detective that he was drinking alcohol when he had sex with the teenager at the Kezar Falls Fire Department, where he was a volunteer firefighter. The teenager is now pregnant, and she said Sherburne is the father, the affidavit says.

SAD 6 hired Sherburne as an educational technician at Buxton Center Elementary School on Feb. 8. It was not clear Friday whether he was also still working at Sacopee Valley High when he began working at Buxton Center Elementary.

According to the affidavit, the girl told police that Sherburne was also a substitute teacher at Sacopee Valley.

Lobozzo said that Sherburne didn’t have the girl as a student when he worked as a substitute. Lobozzo didn’t know when his client stopped working at Sacopee Valley, and a message left at the SAD 55 district office was not returned.

The circumstances of Sherburne’s hiring in SAD 6 also were not clear.

“Although we are unable to discuss many aspects of (Zachariah) Sherburne’s employment because they are confidential, we can tell you that Mr. Sherburne worked for the school district as an educational technician from February 8, 2016, to March 11, 2016,” Bowley’s statement said.

It is also unclear whether Sherburne quit or was fired. His last day at SAD 6 was the same day he turned himself in to the Oxford County sheriff’s department.

On March 11, he met with a sheriff’s deputy in Brownfield and said that he knew he had done something wrong, that he had told the girl that it couldn’t happen again, and that the relationship ended. He told the deputy he had wanted to come forward and confess, the affidavit says, and that he finally did when he learned Sacopee Valley had opened an investigation.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on March 15, and he was released on $500 bail. His next court appearance is in June.

According to the SAD 6 chairwoman’s statement, the school board is not aware of any allegations of inappropriate conduct while Sherburne was employed at the Buxton school.

“The safety and well-being of our students is our first priority, and we have no reason to believe that safety or well-being has been compromised,” the statement said.

Most parents picking up their children from Buxton Center Elementary on Friday were aware of the allegations, but not all of them knew that Sherburne was the superintendent’s son.

Amanda Chute, whose 6-year-old son is a student, said she has not been impressed with Frank Sherburne and the recent news “only confirms that.”

“I think something should happen,” she said. “From what I know of him, he seems to blame everyone else, but you don’t allow your kid to work in your district.”

In 2013, the SAD 6 board cleared Frank Sherburne of allegations by the Sacopee Valley Teachers’ Association that the superintendent had improper communications with a student.

A letter from the union that May said Sherburne communicated directly with a troubled student and interfered with the staff’s ability to “respond to the student’s significant mental health needs.” The Pierce Atwood law firm investigated the allegations for the board and found they were without merit.

Trish Iaconeta, whose son attends the Buxton school, said she would be concerned if the younger Sherburne had not been subjected to the same hiring standards as everyone else.

“You can’t even volunteer here without a background check or fingerprints. And I think that’s good,” she said. “But I think in order to make sure our kids are safe, the school should investigate his time here.”

Frank Sherburne has not addressed the allegations against his son or answered questions about his son’s employment in SAD 6, which encompasses Buxton, Hollis, Limington, Standish and Frye Island. A Press Herald reporter visited the SAD 6 office Friday and was told that Sherburne was in a meeting.

The reporter said he would wait and was then told that Sherburne would not speak with him even after the meeting and referred all questions to Assistant Superintendent Michael Roy or to Bowley. Roy later called the Press Herald and said Bowley would issue a statement, and that neither he nor Sherburne would answer any questions.

The district’s nepotism policy, which is posted on its website, says: “It is the policy of the SAD 6 board not to employ any person who is a member of the family of a board member or the superintendent.”

Of the 14 members of the SAD 6 school board, most did not respond to requests for comment. Only board member Charlotte Dufresne answered questions in a phone call. Another member, Ansel Stevens Jr., called back to defer comment to Roy or Bowley. Board vice chairman Jacob Stoddard said late Friday afternoon that he did not have time to speak on the phone and asked that questions be emailed to him. He hadn’t responded to them Friday night.

Dufresne said she did not remember Zachariah Sherburne’s name being brought before the board for a vote on whether to hire him. School board minutes show no record of the board taking such a vote.

“I don’t follow all the hirings, resignations and firings,” Dufresne said. “My focus of being on the board is the education of the students.”

Dufresne acknowledged the district’s policy against hiring relatives of school board members and the superintendent, but she said relatives have been allowed to work within the district in the past.

“As long as you’re not the direct supervisor, it has been allowed previously,” she said.

Zachariah Sherburne has two addresses listed in court documents – a post office box in Parsonsfield and a residence in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. He has no criminal record in Maine, according to state records.

He did not answer a call to his cellphone Friday.

Staff Writer Scott Dolan contributed to this report.

 


Comments are not available on this story.