BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor High School math teacher who was charged last month with unlawful sexual contact is not currently teaching at the school, according to a statement issued by the superintendent of schools on Wednesday.
The statement did not indicate if mathematics teacher James McHenry, 48, is still employed by the School Department.
“We are aware of the charge faced by one of our employees,” Superintendent Betsy Webb wrote in an email sent to local media outlets about 24 hours after the charge against McHenry was first reported publicly.
“We are responding by following policies and necessary procedural protocols, including confidentiality of personnel matters, with regards to this situation,” Webb wrote. “Therefore, there is limited information that I may share at this point.
“I can confirm that the employee you have inquired about is not currently at Bangor High School. The School Department’s response is guided by our commitment to the safety and well-being of students and the school community, and the need to be fair and respectful to all involved parties,” she stated.
McHenry allegedly touched the genitals of someone under the age of 18, Penobscot County Deputy District Attorney Michael Roberts said Tuesday evening. The alleged assault did not take place on school property, Roberts said.
Roberts declined to say if the victim was a student or provide any other details about the incident out of concern that the victim might be identified.
A message left on McHenry’s phone seeking comment was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Webb’s statement did not address McHenry’s employment status, so it was not clear Wednesday if he had been placed on leave, resigned or was fired.
Webb’s statement also did not specify which policies and protocols were applied to the situation or if parents of Bangor High School students were informed when the charge was brought against McHenry last month.
According to the Bangor School Department Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action Policy, any employee who engages in sexual harassment is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature, according to the policy.
The policy requires that any report of sexual harassment be investigated by an affirmative action officer or other appropriate person appointed by the superintendent. Once the investigation is complete, it is reported to the superintendent or appropriate administrator who determines the appropriate remedial or disciplinary action. That action must then be approved by the Bangor School Committee.
The Bangor High School Student Handbook contains a section on sexual harassment that states as follows:
“It is expressly against School Department policy for any employee or student to make unwelcomed sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or to engage in any other physical or verbal conduct of a
sexual nature which creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.”
The handbook advises students to report such conduct to the assistant principal.
If convicted of the misdemeanor criminal charge, McHenry could get as much as a year in jail, Roberts said.
McHenry is scheduled to make an appearance at the Penobscot County Judicial Center on Dec. 10, Roberts said. However, he said, McHenry’s legal counsel may appear on McHenry’s behalf.