Documents: Oxbow School District Paid $140,000 to Settle Sex Assault Suit

Sum Was Part Of Musty Case

  • Brian Musty listens to the judge during his sentencing on Jan. 2, 2014, at Orange Superior Court in Chelsea, Vt. Musty pleaded guilty to sexual assault. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Bradford, Vt. — The insurance company for Oxbow Union High School District #30 paid $140,000 to settle a civil lawsuit filed by a former student who was sexually assaulted by physical education teacher Brian Musty, according to documents obtained by the Valley News.

Copies of the settlement documents obtained through a public records request show Utica National Insurance Group in January issued the six-figure check to the “client trust account” at Baker & Hayes, the Lebanon-based law firm that represented Tiffany Burroughs.

Burroughs in November 2014 filed a joint lawsuit against Musty and the school district. In it, she alleged school officials acted negligently and didn’t do enough to prevent the abuse she suffered.

Months earlier, Musty pleaded guilty in superior court to sexually assaulting Burroughs in the late 1990s while she was living at his Topsham, Vt., home.

The documents, which were furnished by the district’s primary attorney, Pietro Lynn, provided insight into details of the settlement with the district, which have remained confidential.

A document written to Hayes from Karen McAndrew, the attorney who represented the district in the civil case, shows that a check from the insurance group was made payable to the client trust account for $140,000 “in full and final settlement of this matter.”

Burroughs’ attorney, Patrick Hayes, on Tuesday said that he couldn’t speak to specifics, but said Burroughs “received a substantial settlement.”

The school district, through Lynn, also declined to comment on specifics. Lynn said in an email that the school district did not decide the settlement amount.

“That determination was made by an insurance company,” he wrote. “The district did not control the litigation. That too was done by the insurer.”

The settlement doesn’t indicate guilt on behalf of the district, Lynn wrote. “The district did not in any way admit any negligent conduct by virtue of the insurance company settling the case under the limits of liability coverage.”

In January, lawyers close to the case said Burroughs and the school district had settled. No details about the settlement were released at the time.

Last month, the Valley News filed a public records request with the school district and its primary attorney, who recently supplied the documents.

Though the district and Burroughs settled in January, her suit against Musty was pending at the time. Burroughs sued Musty on three counts: battery, breach of fiduciary duty and outrageous conduct.

Through her attorney, Burroughs in February asked a judge to dismiss the case against Musty, according to Musty’s St. Johnsbury, Vt.-based attorney David Sleigh. A judge later granted the motion, closing the case.

Because Musty was voluntarily dismissed from the case, there was no settlement amount, Sleigh said.

The civil lawsuit came in the wake of the criminal prosecution stemming from when Musty served as her guardian near the end of the ’90s. Burroughs moved into Musty’s house to escape problems in her own home.

Court documents show that Musty “engaged in sexual acts” with her from the time she turned 16 in September 1998 until she became an adult in 2000.

Investigators alleged the incidents occurred both at Musty’s home and inside the high school.

Musty, now 46, pleaded guilty in March 2014 to one count of sexual assault on a victim under 18 who was entrusted to his care. He served seven months in prison and now remains on a lifetime of parole.

As a matter of general practice, the Valley News does not identify the victims of sex crimes. Burroughs, however, has said she feels her name is a matter of public record.

Lynn, the district’s primary attorney, said student safety at Oxbow High School is of the utmost importance.

“The district strongly opposes unprofessional conduct by any employees and takes disciplinary action where it is discovered,” he said in an email. “We have and will continue to successfully work toward these important goals.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.