A Brunswick school custodian charged with unlawful sexual touching of a 16-year-old girl has been placed on paid administrative leave, the school district said Tuesday.

Earl Ater, 59, the head nighttime custodian at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School, was issued a summons for unlawful sexual touching by the Brunswick Police Department on March 31, said Patrol Cmdr. Mark Hagan. The alleged victim is not a student in the Brunswick school district, said Superintendent Paul Perzanoski.

Police notified the school and Ater was placed on leave by the school department April 1, Perzanoski said. Parents of students at the Stowe school were notified of the charge April 6 in a letter that did not identify Ater.

“Please be assured, the safety and well being of all our students is of the utmost importance,” Stowe Principal Jean Skorapa said in the letter. “The administration will continue to work closely with the Brunswick police department as they move toward a resolution of this matter.”

The summons, a Class D misdemeanor, requires Ater to appear in West Bath court May 17. If he is convicted on the charge, he could face a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail or a $2,000 fine.

Hagan said he could not release the police report, citing an ongoing investigation. However, he did indicate that the alleged crime took place on or about March 24.

Asked if the students were ever in danger, he said: “None that we are aware of, and that is a blessing.”

Ater has been employed with the district for 22 years, he said. According to the State Bureau of Identification, Ater has no criminal history. A phone number for Ater could not be located.

Perzanoski declined to reveal any details of Ater’s employment record at the district, saying personnel matters are confidential.

“I’ll just say that he wouldn’t have lasted 22 years if he had not at least done a satisfactory job,” the superintendent said. “We’ve done what we need to do. People are innocent until proven guilty. But we still need to take proper measures.”

 


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