Cloudy
55°
Cloudy
Hi 59° | Lo 42°

Oxbow Parents Sound Off

In Wake of Teacher’s Arrest, Many Ask if Signs Were Ignored

  • Last night in Bradford, Vt., Greg Hodge voices his concerns during a public hearing concerning the recent allegations against Oxbow Union High School coach and teacher Brian Musty, who is charged with sexually assaulting a former student and player.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Last night in Bradford, Vt., Greg Hodge voices his concerns during a public hearing concerning the recent allegations against Oxbow Union High School coach and teacher Brian Musty, who is charged with sexually assaulting a former student and player.
    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Don Johnson addresses the audience during last night's public hearing concerning the recent allegations against teacher Brian Musty.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Don Johnson addresses the audience during last night's public hearing concerning the recent allegations against teacher Brian Musty.
    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Superintendent Don Johnson and Oxbow Principal Larry Walsh listen during a public hearing concerning allegations against coach Brian Musty.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

    Superintendent Don Johnson and Oxbow Principal Larry Walsh listen during a public hearing concerning allegations against coach Brian Musty.
    (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Last night in Bradford, Vt., Greg Hodge voices his concerns during a public hearing concerning the recent allegations against Oxbow Union High School coach and teacher Brian Musty, who is charged with sexually assaulting a former student and player.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Don Johnson addresses the audience during last night's public hearing concerning the recent allegations against teacher Brian Musty.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)
  • Superintendent Don Johnson and Oxbow Principal Larry Walsh listen during a public hearing concerning allegations against coach Brian Musty.<br/>(Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

Bradford, Vt. — Parents hammered Oxbow High School officials last night for their handling of the case of a gym teacher charged with sexually assaulting a former student in the late 1990s, with several complaining that the school may have ignored signs that something was amiss.

One week after gym teacher and coach Brian H. Musty, 43, was arrested inside the school, more than 100 people packed the auditorium for a community forum, and asked increasingly pointed questions of Principal Larry Walsh and Superintendent Don Johnson as the 21/2-hour meeting went on.

Several parents said that they had long been wary of Musty, and according to several speakers last night and a police affidavit, some were uncomfortable that he frequently spent time inside his closed office with female players.

“I went home and I told my daughters, ‘You stay away from him,’ ” said Ann Cook, who coached at the school. “There were inappropriate close relationships, too much contact. We need to be brave enough to call the office and say, ‘I’m not accusing you of anything, but I don’t like it.’ You must have had something on your radar. There could have been conversations — the door is closed and there’s girls in there.”

Parent Greg Hodge said that he has been inside the school dozens of times, and often noted that Musty was meeting with girls in his office during the day, behind closed doors. The students, Hodge said, could not have been there without permission from others.

“They’re getting free passes from the office. Why isn’t someone walking in there and saying, ‘Girls, what are you doing in here, and Mr. Musty, what are you doing, you don’t need to shoot the (breeze)?’ ” Hodge said. “If you were in tune, somebody would go down there and say, ‘Get out.’ Somebody should have seen it, it’s been happening for years. There’s always girls in his office talking and visiting.”

Walsh repeatedly said there had been no formal complaints filed or reasons for concern about Musty, who is charged with assaulting a female player between 1997 and 1998, when she was under the age of 16.

“If I had a particular suspicion or inappropriate (behavior), I would have acted on it,” said Walsh, who was not principal when the alleged incidents occurred.

Musty, who is a physical education teacher and coach of Oxbow’s girls basketball, soccer and lacrosse teams, pleaded not guilty and was released on $20,000 bail. He and his attorney have declined to comment. The victim, now 30, has long since moved away from the Upper Valley and came forward in October.

Investigators alleged that the incidents occurred both at Musty’s home, where the female student lived for a time, and inside the high school.

Musty has been placed on paid leave.

Last night, officials repeatedly told the crowd that, because of the ongoing criminal investigation and school personnel privacy laws, they could say little about Musty.

They did, however, clear up one potential cause of concern: A police affidavit referenced a sealed file that the school maintained on Musty. Last night, Johnson said the file was a standard personnel file, which officials maintain on every staff member, that did not contain any indications of criminal wrongdoing. Johnson called it a “thin” file.

But parents found plenty to talk about, even if they could not directly address the Musty case.

Several parents said that they were frustrated that, even though Musty was arrested on Monday, they were not notified until mid-day Wednesday, after their children had been told inside the school.

Oxbow officials said that lawyers advised them to withhold notification until Musty was arraigned — and the allegations against him made public — on Wednesday morning.

Other parents said that the Bradford educational community appears to have not learned its lesson from a few years ago, when former Bradford Elementary School teacher Richard Foster was sentenced to 25 years in prison for producing child pornography involving two sixth-grade boys.

“We had this blow up with Richard Foster, what have you done?” Bonnie Brill asked. “What did you do differently since that happened? What have you changed?”

Her question was met with silence.

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.