Substitute teacher pleads guilty to inappropriate behavior with students

Posted May 13, 2013, at 9:33 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A former substitute teacher pleaded guilty Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center to misdemeanor charges in connection with inappropriate behavior with four students at schools in Bangor and Old Town.

Gene Staffiere, 68, of Bangor pleaded guilty to four counts of Class D assault and one count of Class E disorderly conduct.

By pleading guilty, Staffiere admitted that on Sept. 24 while he was substituting at Fairmount School in Bangor he rubbed a male student’s back and did the same to three male students on Dec. 12 at the Old Town Middle School. Police investigations were launched after the students told parents and teachers they felt Staffiere had behaved inappropriately with them.

Staffiere, who retired to Bangor after a teaching career in upstate New York, was summoned but not arrested on the charges, according to court documents.

Assistant District Attorney Tracy Lacher described Staffiere’s actions as inappropriate but not of a sexual nature. She said that Staffiere told investigators that he was trying to calm students down and comfort them. Lacher did not say why the children needed comforting.

In a plea agreement with the Penobscot County district attorney’s office, Staffiere on May 16, 2014, will be able to withdraw his guilty pleas to the assault charges and plead guilty to three additional disorderly conduct charges if he does not violate conditions of his personal recognizance bail.

If Staffiere violates his bail, the plea agreement calls for him to serve seven days at the Penobscot County Jail and pay a $1,200 fine, Lacher said. He would just pay the fine if he does not violate bail.

Those conditions include undergoing counseling, relinquishing his teaching credentials and sending a letter to the Department of Education explaining why he was doing so. If Staffiere were not to abide by those conditions or to be charged with new crimes, he would not be allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas, District Court Judge Gregory Campbell said in accepting the agreement.

Lacher said that the plea deal meant the children would not have to testify against Staffiere at a trial.

The father of one victim told Campbell that he was not happy with the plea agreement but said he’d rather his son not have to take the witness stand and face Staffiere.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Silverstein declined to comment on the case.

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