Substitute teacher in Old Town charged with assault for ‘inappropriate touching,’ police say

Posted Dec. 28, 2012, at 6:19 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 29, 2012, at 5:16 a.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — A middle school student told police he felt uncomfortable when a substitute teacher touched him, but he didn’t take action until earlier this month when he saw the same teacher touching a fellow student, Old Town police Officer Debbie Holmes said Friday.

“They weren’t sexual in nature, but they were inappropriate touching and they made the students uncomfortable,” Holmes said.

Police started an investigation Dec. 7 into the actions of substitute teacher Gene Staffiere, 68, of Veazie, who had been working at Leonard Middle School. He was issued summonses Friday charging him with three counts of misdemeanor assault against the students, Holmes said.

“It was inappropriate for a teacher to be touching a student that way,” she said of the nonsexual touching, which included back rubs.

Two 12-year-old boys, an 11-year-old boy and a fourth boy went to the school’s principal earlier this month after one of the victims “saw it happen to another kid,” the officer said.

After going to the principal, the fourth boy declined to speak with police, she said.

“I told them, ‘You did the right thing,’” Holmes said. “They were all made to feel uncomfortable and teachers don’t do that.”

Staffiere has a Jan. 24 court date at the Penobscot Judicial Center to face the charges against him.

“The [school’s] staff really were upset about it,” Holmes said of the investigation. “He’s not going to be subbing there anymore.”

Messages left for Superintendent David Walker at the school and his home for comment were not immediately returned.

Those with information about the case may call Officer Debbie Holmes at the Old Town Police Department, 827-3984.

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