Jill Lamontagne hugs her family after being found not guilty of sexually assaulting a student at York County Superior Court on Thursday afternoon. JILL BRADY/Portland Press Herald

ALFRED — A jury found former Kennebunk High School health teacher Jill Lamontagne on Thursday not guilty on all counts of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student in 2017.

Lamontagne quietly burst into tears as the jury foreman delivered the verdict, one-by-one, on each of the 14 counts.

The verdict came two hours after closing arguments on the fourth day of the trial.

Outside the  County Court House following the verdict, Lamontagne and her husband Steve stood with her defense counsel, Scott Gardner.

“I am pleased that the truth worked,” said Lamontagne.

She said it had been a painful year of silence for her, especially, she said, because the allegations had been reported “like they were true.”

Lamontagne said initially after the charges were filed she was wary of going about her routine, wary of going to the supermarket in Kennebunk, the town where she was raised and still lives. Then, when she did venture out, she found support.

“I want to thank the community for their support,” she said. “ I knew the community was behind me.”

Jill Lamontagne and her husband, Steve, listen as defense attorney Scott Gardner speaks to the media following the not guilty verdict at York County Superior Court. JILL BRADY/Portland Press Herald

Lamontagne, 30, had been charged with six counts of Class C felony gross sexual assault involving an individual over whom she had instructional, supervisory or disciplinary authority; two Class D misdemeanor charges of unlawful sexual contact; and six Class D misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse of a minor.

The alleged victim was 17-years-old when she began assisting him with his school work so he could graduate that year.

He is now 19, and testified earlier this week that he and Lamontagne had engaged in a sex acts in a closet in her classroom and in her home. He testified that he believed the two were in love.

Lamontagne vehemently denied the charges. She took the stand in her own defense Wednesday afternoon and her testimony continued on Thursday morning.

She said she helped the teen with his school work and was also aware he had been having emotional difficulties. She said she tried to help him, but admitted she hadn’t referred him to the school social worker because she knew they didn’t get along. Instead she testified she sought advice from the counselor and worked with the alleged victim.

On the two occasions the alleged victim said the two had engaged in sex acts in Lamontagne’s home, a former colleague and her children’s daycare provider testified she was with them.

The teen had testified he was uncertain about his future as graduation grew nearer, and said be believed Lamontagne’s feelings about him had changed.

“I felt like she started to not like me any more,” he said on the witness stand.

He testified that he had skipped a graduation assembly on June 9, 2017  and attempted to take his own life that day.

“Jill has been completely exonerated,” said Gardner, Lamontagne’s attorney from the steps of the York County Court House. “It was the fantasy of a teen boy, which got out of control.”

He said he believes the school board should “give her her job back.”

Gardner said he was impressed with Lamontagne’s courage in the face of adversity.

“We knew it all along,” said Lamontagne’s aunt, Nancy Meehan, as her supporters left the courthouse Thursday afternoon. “They made a mess of this girl’s life. She is the sweetest, most caring person. Its been a horrible nightmare for her family.”

“We’re ecstatic,” said Melissa Luetje, an RSU 21 teacher who was among those supporting their former colleague. “It was the right verdict.”

RSU 21 schools superintendent Kathryn Hawes issued a statement following the verdict.

“The district respects the judgment of the jury and we commend the administrators, teachers and students who performed an important civic duty by responding to subpoenas from both sides and coming to court to testify,” said Hawes, in part. “We are glad that this long and difficult process is now over. “

“Although Ms. Lamontagne was acquitted of the criminal charges, I think it is important to acknowledge that the evidence that was presented during the trial demonstrated a troubling failure by one of our teachers to comply with the standards we expect of all of our employees,” Hawes continued. “For example, RSU 21 prohibits our employees from communicating with students by text and social media platforms, we require our teachers to refer students in crisis to professional counselors rather than attempting to intervene with these students on their own, and we would never condone the use of intimate language, of the type introduced during the trial, between our teachers and their students.”

“If your child needs to speak to one of our school counselors please contact the KHS main office at 985-1110,” Hawes offered.

A victim witness advocate said the alleged victim and his family declined to speak to the media.

Prosecutors Nicholas Heimbach and Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan were not available following the verdict and jurors, three men and nine women, immediately left the courtroom after being dismissed by the judge.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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