A teacher and girls’ coach at Berwick Academy who allegedly took inappropriate pictures of female students without their knowledge over the past 12 to 18 months has been fired and is under criminal investigation, police said Friday.
South Berwick police were notified by the private day school Monday that Brian Sanborn, a longtime chemistry teacher and basketball coach, had been fired after admitting to inappropriate conduct involving students, said Police Chief Dana Lajoie.
Police began their own investigation, which included obtaining a search warrant and seizing cameras, computers, tablets and smartphones from Sanborn’s home in Sanford on Wednesday.
Lajoie said no criminal charges have been filed and he has seen no incriminating images. “We’re working off accusations at this point,” he said.
To get a judge’s authorization for a search warrant, police must show probable cause that evidence of a crime is likely to be found in the search.
Lajoie would not be specific about the allegations against Sanborn, saying only that he was seen with a camera “in the wrong spot.” Lajoie said he did not know where that was.
“He was taking pictures of females at various times and places in precarious situations,” Lajoie said. “At this point in time he admitted it to the school. That’s why they released him. They don’t have any evidence above and beyond that.”
Sanborn could not be reached for comment Friday. A telephone message left at his home was not returned.
School officials notified parents about the allegation and Sanborn’s dismissal, Lajoie said.
Tracey Boucher, communications director for Berwick Academy, provided a written statement Friday.
“School officials were made aware of allegations of misconduct involving a teacher taking inappropriate photographs of students on campus without their knowledge,” the statement said. “Upon confirming the validity of these allegations, we took swift internal actions to end this teacher’s employment, and we immediately reported this situation to local law enforcement. As this is now an ongoing police investigation, we must refrain from speaking further on the issue at this time.”
The school said it is cooperating with police, and the safety of students and visitors is its top priority.
Lajoie said he has three officers assigned to the case. He hopes to have a decision about charges by early next week, but said a comprehensive forensic analysis of computers takes time and is being done by an outside agency.
Lajoie said he knew of no past criminal charges against Sanborn.
According to Maine law, anyone who “installs or uses in a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in that place, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying or broadcasting sounds or events in that place” is guilty of the misdemeanor violation of privacy.
Anyone with more information about the case is asked to call South Berwick police at 384-2254.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: