AUGUSTA — A Winslow High School teacher and coach pleaded guilty Tuesday to unlawful sexual touching of a teenage student and was forced to resign his school positions.

Scott R. Wood, 38, of Oakland, provided the district attorney with a written apology as part of a plea bargain, saying he was sorry to authorities, the Winslow educational community, his family, the victim and her family.

“I accept responsibility for my actions,” Wood wrote.

Following the plea in Kennebec County Superior Court, Wood was granted a day to gather his belongings from Winslow High School. He will serve six months at the county jail starting today.

District Attorney Evert Fowle said Tuesday that Wood entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual touching of a girl under the age of 18, in exchange for the dismissal of a second count of unlawful touching. Wood was sentenced to serve 364 days in jail, with all but six months suspended, and will be placed on administrative release for one year after he’s out of jail.

Both the victim and her family attended Tuesday morning’s hearing and delivered emotional statements in court, Fowle said.

“I think he (Wood) wanted to accept responsibility for what he did and he wanted to spare the victim the difficulty that a trial would have had, so I think he thought it was in his interest to plead guilty early in the process,” Fowle said. “The victim and her family get closure and accountability and the defendant gets a quick resolution, but he’s not going to like his six months in jail, I’m certain of that.”

During his administrative release, he is also ordered to have no contact with the victim or her family; no unsupervised contact with any girl under the age of 18 unless he is related to her and has written permission; that he provide a written apology; that he stay off the property of Winslow schools; that he resign his Winslow teaching position and surrender his teaching certificate; and pay $2,000 in restitution.

Wood is married, with children, school officials have said. He started coaching Winslow boys basketball in 2002; he coached girls soccer for 13 years, since 1998, and before that he coached soccer in Gorham.

Police have described the victim as a female student younger than 18 years of age. Additional details were not disclosed in order to keep the victim’s identity private.

Wood did not return a message left at his home Tuesday.

Wood’s attorney, Joshua Tardy, said Tuesday his client “is very sorry for the events that led to the criminal charges and this morning’s plea.”

“He has nothing but respect for the Winslow community and is very much looking forward to putting this matter behind him,” Tardy said.

A shocked community

Wood’s arrest on June 24 and his guilty plea 18 days later highlight a rapid downfall for a well-respected coach and teacher. Since his arrest, Wood has been free on unsecured bond.

Wood, who was a social science teacher at the high school, was named the Morning Sentinel boys basketball coach of the year this past spring. He was also named Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Coach of the Year for girls soccer in 2008 and 2009. In 13 years coaching girls soccer, Wood guided squads that won seven regional titles and one state championship.

In 2002-03 — Wood’s first as coach of the Winslow boys basketball squad — the Black Raiders won their first state championship in 64 years. Wood won his 100th career game as boys basketball coach on Feb. 8.

School Superintendent Eric Haley said Tuesday that Wood had resigned his teaching and coaching positions immediately following his guilty plea on Tuesday. Wood was placed on administrative leave last month after a parent reported the incidents for which he was later arrested.

Haley said counseling will be offered in a meeting with the high school’s athletic director, Carrie Larrabee, the girls soccer team and guidance counselors. In addition, counselors will be available at the school today and Thursday for staff, parents and students.

Haley said he and other school officials are struggling with the revelations about Wood, saying “you go through every emotion.”

“It’s such a sacred kind of position, the influence you have as an educator is so strong,” Haley said. “I think I, like all educators, just feel awful when something like this happens.”

Jim Poulin, an assistant coach to the boys basketball team that Wood coached, said he was astounded when the allegations surfaced last month. Poulin said he’s been a coach since 1974 and he always had good experiences with Wood.

“I was in awe of how he handled tough situations with kids and not make the kid feel like they failed,” Poulin said. Following Wood’s arrest, “it was surprise, more than anything. It’s like, ‘This can’t be happening.’ It’s just a bad dream you keep hoping that tomorrow or sometime soon you’ll wake up from.”

Police initially said they expected to file additional charges against Wood and asked that parents call police if they believed their children may have had inappropriate contact with Wood. Ultimately, though, no additional charges were filed before Wood pleaded guilty Tuesday and no one else came forward with allegations against Wood, according to Winslow Officer Joshua Veilleux, who investigated the case with Winslow Detective Gina Henderson.

Veilleux, who is also the school resource officer, said the case was personally tough for him: Wood was his daughter’s teacher and soccer coach the last two years.

“It was hard as a dad to try and console my own kid,” Veilleux said. “It was a juggling act, trying to be a dad and an investigating officer.”

The Wood case has had a far-reaching impact on the community, he said, and a “healing process” is now needed.

“Everyone is surprised that this happened. Everyone respected him as a father, as a teacher and as a coach — all the kids loved this guy,” Veilleux said. “So, that’s disappointing to know, since he was a great teacher, a great coach and mentor. I wish he would have thought about that before he did what he did.”

Fowle said Henderson and Veilleux did a thorough job with the case’s investigation that helped move the case toward a speedy conclusion.

“I think Mr. Wood and his attorney saw the handwriting on the wall,” Fowle said. “This was an egregious breach of trust, which really had a devastating impact on a family. He’s paying the price for that now.”

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]

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