Mountain School eighth-grade teacher accused of sexual misconduct with student
WINHALL — An eighth-grade teacher at the Mountain School was arraigned on two felony counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child on Monday after police said one of his students had reported he had kissed her and touched her buttocks, but the judge in the case rejected conditions of release which would keep him away from children.
Bryan Love, 37, of Hebron, N.Y., pleaded innocent to the charges Monday in Bennington criminal court. He was released without bail.
Love was ordered not to be on the grounds of the Mountain School, an independent school in Winhall. The state asked for conditions of release that would bar Love from having contact with children or going onto the grounds of a school but Judge Cortland Corsones denied both requests.
Corsones said he wouldn’t issue any order preventing contact with children because the charges were “only allegations at this point.” He also said he considered Love’s lack of criminal record and that the allegations only involved “one minor (and) not that it was happening to other children.”
Detective Anthony Silvestro, of the Bennington Police Department, said he had been assigned to the case Nov. 15 because of his assignment with the Bennington County Special Investigations Unit. Silvestro said he was notified by the Department of Children and Families.
The girl, who is 14, told investigators Nov. 16 that 2012-13 was her first year at the Mountain School.
Investigators said the girl admitted she had a crush on Love. While many of the incidents she described involved the girl making comments or overtures to Love, she also said he had touched her buttocks and kissed her on the mouth on Halloween.
According to the girl, both incidents took place at the school. The girl said she initiated the alleged contact when she said Love touched her buttocks but the affidavit didn’t specify when she said it happened or whether she said it had happened on more than one occasion.
Silvestro said when he contacted Love on Nov. 26, Love told him the Mountain School had put him on leave with pay based on an allegation made to the school through the Vermont Department of Children and Families.
According to the affidavit, Silvestro interviewed several people at the Mountain School on Nov. 19. Christine Burr, who said she was co-homeroom teacher of the eighth grade with Love, said on one occasion that she saw the girl touch his stomach area. She said she told the girl it was inappropriate.
Burr also told Silvestro that Love did not react or say anything to the girl. She said she later told Love he “could not be with her or around her at all” and said she and Love talked about the girl as “fragile and emotional.”
Burr said neither she nor Love told administrators at the school about the incident.
Peter Ahfield, dean of students at the Mountain School, said Love had told him he didn’t believe he should mentor the girl and asked that she be removed from his classes. In a follow-up conversation, Ahfield said Love had never mentioned the girl having inappropriate feelings or making inappropriate contact toward him.
On Monday, the state filed a notice of additional evidence they intended to present. According to Christina Rainville, chief deputy state’s attorney for Bennington County, Love told the girl he was 32 and had fathered a child in Costa Rica. The state found evidence that Love had a child with a woman who was 17 at the time in 2004.
“All of this evidence is admissible as it demonstrates (Love’s) scheme in attracting (the girl) by presenting himself as younger than he was and as someone who had a recent relationship with another teenager who was not much older than (the girl),” Rainville said.
Bradley Myerson, who represented Love, declined to comment on the case after the arraignment.
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