ALFRED — The alleged victim in the sexual assault trial of former Kennebunk High School teacher Jill Lamontagne testified Monday that their relationship began when she was helping him improve his English grade.

“Things became more personal between us I guess, and then escalated to sexual,” he said while on the stand at York County Superior Court in Alfred on Monday afternoon on the first day of Lamontagne’s trial.

She is charged with six Class C felony counts of gross sexual assault involving an individual over whom she had instructional, supervisory or disciplinary authority; two Class D misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact and six Class D misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

Her attorney, Scott Gardner, said his client denies the charges. Lamontagne, who pleaded not guilty in December, had resigned in September 2017 after teaching health at Kennebunk High School for about five years. About two dozen teachers and community members who support Lamontagne stood outside the courthouse before the trial began, holding signs such as “We stand with Jill,” Justice for Jill,” “Jill is the victim.”

The boy told the court he and Lamontagne began a relationship that escalated beyond kissing and hugging late in January 2017, when he was 17. In response to questioning by prosecutor Nicholas Heimbach, the teen, who turned 19 on Thursday, said that he and Lamontagne had oral sex in a closet in her portable classroom and at her home in West Kennebunk. He testified that the two had briefly engaged in sexual intercourse during their second encounter at her home, but stopped.

“She said, ‘We can’t do this until you graduate,’ ” he told the court.

The Press Herald does not name victims of alleged sex crimes without their consent.

The teen testified that he and Lamontagne corresponded by the social media app Snapchat and by text, but he said Lamontagne preferred Snapchat because the app erases messages automatically.

In opening statements, Gardner said Lamontagne was born and raised in Kennebunk, where her father is a longtime teacher at the high school and her husband is an electrician. The couple have two young children.

He said Lamontagne, a 2006 graduate of Kennebunk High who earned a master’s degree in education in 2013, was offered a teaching job at the school in 2012 after working a year as an education technician.

“This was her dream job,” Gardner said. Besides her classroom responsibilities, Lamontagne coordinated a program that helped students find ways to meet community service requirements, was a class adviser and organized a Sunshine Fund to help boost the morale of teachers, the attorney said.

He described Lamontagne as dedicated, disciplined, focused and organized, and questioned what he described as the prosecution’s theory that she would risk destroying her career and humiliating herself and her family by having sexual encounters with a student at the school.

Lamontagne had taught the boy in her health class during his sophomore year. Gardner said his client could see he was struggling with some of his classes when he became a senior and she went to his guidance counselor and offered to help.

In opening arguments, Deputy District Attorney Justine McGettigan told the jury that rumors soon surfaced that Lamontagne was having a relationship with the boy. Lamontagne was placed on leave when school officials and the Kennebunk Police Department investigated the claims in March 2017. The investigation did not result in charges and she returned to her job.

On the stand, the teen testified that he had lied to school officials when he denied their relationship during the initial investigation, and had told some friends he was in a relationship with Lamontagne.

The alleged victim said the relationship continued after the initial investigation wound down, but that things began to change. He said he was graduating and wasn’t sure what he would be doing afterward and that Lamontagne told him not to worry about it.

“I felt like she started to not like me any more,” he said on the stand.

He testified that on the morning of June 9, 2017, he stopped by her classroom, as he did every day. The two took a photo together.

“It was almost like she was making fun of me,” he said.

The teen said he was supposed to stay for a graduation assembly later in the day, but went home.

“I tried to take my own life,” he said.

Testimony at a 2017 hearing revealed that the boy had ingested a number of medications that day.

Also testifying Monday were Kennebunk High Principal Susan Cressey, Assistant Principal Bruce Lewia and guidance counselor Laurie Hall.

The former student is expected to continue his testimony Tuesday.

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