The Maine Human Rights Commission has dismissed a complaint by a former Kennebunk teacher who was acquitted last year of sexually assaulting a student, but her lawyer says she still plans to sue the district.

Jill Lamontagne taught health at Kennebunk High School for five years. In June 2017, a student said he had sexual contact with Lamontagne at the school and in her home when he was 17 years old. She resigned in September 2017.

The following month, she was indicted on 14 charges, including six felony counts of gross sexual assault. She went to trial in July 2018, and a York County jury found her not guilty of all charges.

Lamontagne did not go back to teaching. In November 2018, she filed a complaint against Regional School Unit 21 with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

That complaint said the district retaliated against Lamontagne for reporting her concerns about student harassment of teachers, such as the rumor that spread through school about a sexual relationship between her and the student. Among her allegations, she said the district pressured her to resign in response to the criminal charges.

Lamontagne also said the then-superintendent retaliated again after the trial by issuing a statement that accused the former teacher of violating district policies that bar text and social media contact with students. The district denied any retaliation.


Last week, the commission sided with the district and dismissed her complaint. The investigator said it was “highly credible” that the district acted in response to inappropriate conduct between Lamontagne and the student. The report cited text messages between the two, including an exchange in which Lamontage wrote, “My heart is racing.”

“In addition, Superintendent’s statements after the trial are not defamatory but an objectively reasonable characterization based on the text message evidence it obtained,” investigator Jane O’Reilly wrote in her report.

Attorney Guy Loranger, who represents Lamontagne, said she will file a lawsuit within 90 days.

“The Commission’s dismissal is simply a formality,” Loranger wrote in an email. “The Commission did not conduct an investigation. It simply looked at pleadings. The only relevance from the Commission’s dismissal is it now permits us to file the lawsuit. In addition, we will add addition claims beyond the claims under the Maine Human Rights Act.”

Lamontagne did not respond to a voicemail Friday. Weeks after the trial, Lamontage told the Journal Tribune that she was working at a diner, spending time with her family and writing notes for a possible book.

Asked whether she is still certified as a teacher, her attorney would only say she has not been able to find another teaching job. A Maine Department of Education spokesperson did not respond to a voicemail or an email Friday afternoon asking about her certification status.

Acting Superintendent Phil Potenziano also did not respond to a voicemail Friday. Katie Hawes, who was the superintendent at the time of the accusations against Lamontagne, recently announced she was leaving the district for a job at the University of Southern Maine.

The investigator’s report included the statement Hawes made last year in response to the jury verdict.

“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 that we expect of all of our employees,” that statement reads.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.