ALFRED — A former Kennebunk High School teacher was found not guilty Thursday of sexually assaulting a student.

Jill Lamontagne sobbed when the verdict was announced Thursday afternoon, and muffled cries could be heard throughout the courtroom.

Outside the York County Courthouse following the verdict, Lamontagne and her husband, Steve, stood with her defense attorney, Scott Gardner.

“I am pleased that the truth worked,” Jill Lamontagne said.

The York County Superior Court jury of three men and nine women issued its verdict – not guilty on all 14 counts – after deliberating for about two hours. Jury members immediately left the courthouse without commenting about the four-day trial. Lamontagne, 30, was tried on six Class C felony charges of gross sexual assault involving an individual over whom she had instructional, supervisory or disciplinary authority; two Class D misdemeanor charges of unlawful sexual contact; and six Class D misdemeanor charges of sexual abuse of a minor.

Though Lamontagne was cleared of the criminal charges, Kathryn Hawes, the superintendent of Regional School Unit 21, said the former health teacher had “demonstrated a troubling failure” to comply with the district’s standards involving communications with students.

Outside the courthouse, Lamontagne said that it had been a painful year of silence for her, especially, she said, because the allegations had been reported “like they were true.”

Lamontagne said that initially after the charges were filed she was wary of going about her routine, wary of going to the supermarket in Kennebunk, the town where she was raised and still lives. Then, when she did venture out, she found support.

“I want to thank the community for their support,” she said. “I knew the community was behind me.”

Jill Lamontagne and her husband, Steve, listen as defense attorney Scott Gardner, right, speaks to the media following the verdict of “not guilty” at York County Superior Court in Alfred on Thursday.

A victim witness advocate said the alleged victim and his family declined to speak to the media.

Prosecutors Nicholas Heimbach and Deputy District Attorney Justina McGettigan were not available following the verdict.

The former student testified during the trial that he and Lamontagne had sexual relations in a closet in her classroom and in her home in 2017, when he was 17. He testified this week that he believed the two were in love. The teen, now 19, said he was uncertain about his future as graduation grew nearer, and said be believed Lamontagne’s feelings about him had changed.

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

He testified that he had skipped a graduation assembly on June 9, 2017, and attempted to take his life that day.

“We knew it all along,” says Nancy Meehan, an aunt to Jill Lamontagne, about the outcome of her niece’s trial Thursday. “They made a mess of this girl’s life.”

Lamontagne took the stand Wednesday to deny any sexual relationship and said her phone calls and text messages with the boy were all part of her efforts to help him graduate. Her testimony continued under cross-examination Thursday morning.

She said she helped the teen with his school work and also was aware he had been having emotional difficulties. She said she tried to help him, but admitted she hadn’t referred him to the school social worker because she knew the two didn’t get along. Instead, she testified, she sought advice from a guidance counselor and worked with the boy.

The alleged victim specified two occasions when he said they had engaged in sex acts in Lamontagne’s home, but a former colleague and the Lamontagnes’ daycare provider testified Jill Lamontagne was with them at those times.

“Jill has been completely exonerated,” Gardner, Lamontagne’s attorney, said from the steps of the York County Court House. “It was the fantasy of a teen boy, which got out of control.”

He said he believes the school board should “give her her job back.”

Gardner was impressed with Lamontagne’s courage in the face of adversity.

“We knew it all along,” said Lamontagne’s aunt, Nancy Meehan, as Lamontagne’s supporters left the courthouse Thursday afternoon. “They made a mess of this girl’s life. She is the sweetest, most caring person. It’s been a horrible nightmare for her family.”

“We’re ecstatic,” said Melissa Luetje, a teacher in RSU 21 who was among those supporting their former colleague. “It was the right verdict.”

Hawes, the RSU 21 superintendent, issued a statement following the verdict that said, despite being found not guilty of sexual assault, Lamontagne had violated standards about how to communicate with students and how to respond to students who need emotional support.

“Although Ms. Lamontagne was acquitted of the criminal charges, I think it is important to acknowledge that the evidence that was presented during the trial demonstrated a troubling failure by one of our teachers to comply with the standards we expect of all of our employees,” Hawes said in the statement. “For example, RSU 21 prohibits our employees from communicating with students by text and social media platforms, we require our teachers to refer students in crisis to professional counselors rather than attempting to intervene with these students on their own, and we would never condone the use of intimate language, of the type introduced during the trial, between our teachers and their students.”

Tammy Wells can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 327 or at:

[email protected]

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