A teacher at a private Christian school in Freeport has been charged with gross sexual assault for having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old female student, Lisbon police say.

Derek Michael Boyce

Derek Michael Boyce, 37, admitted to police that he had a sexual relationship with the student after her mother caught them having sex last Friday, according to an affidavit filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Boyce has been placed on leave by Pine Tree Academy in Freeport, a private Seventh-day Adventist school on Pownal Road that has 126 students in grades K-12.

He was charged and arrested at his Woolwich home last Friday, the day that police began investigating the allegations. He is being held at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on $50,000 bail and is barred from contacting the girl or her family and from having any contact with minors, police said.

Boyce is charged with two counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, and is expected to make his first court appearance Dec. 5.

In a sworn statement, a Lisbon detective wrote that the victim’s mother came home Friday night to find her daughter naked and engaged in a sex act with Boyce, the Sun Journal newspaper reported. The mother then called police.

The mother had previously believed that Boyce, who was the girl’s math teacher, may have had an inappropriate relationship with the teenager, police said.

After being caught, the girl told her mother that she had had sexual intercourse with Boyce before, the Sun Journal reported.

Boyce told police that his relationship with the girl began after she sustained a sports injury and was depressed. They communicated over social media messaging applications.

NOT A STATE-CERTIFIED TEACHER

The relationship became romantic in May, then turned sexual in July, he told police. They met in a park and performed oral sex on each other, Boyce said. They had sexual intercourse twice, he said.

Boyce told police that their sex was always consensual and that neither drugs nor alcohol was involved.

According to the state Department of Education, Boyce is not a certified teacher with the state, but private schools are not required to hire certified teachers. Boyce has no criminal history in Maine, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

Boyce passed a standard pre-employment background check that included multiple reference interviews, said a spokesman for the Northern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

“Rigorous background checks are conducted on all teachers during the hiring phase,” Scott Christiansen said. “Background checks include all law enforcement records, including traffic violations, as well as multiple interviews with references and previous employers. As a teacher at Pine Tree Academy, such a background check was done on Mr. Boyce.”

BANNED FROM CAMPUS

Pine Tree Academy is owned and operated by the Northern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and has been open since 1974. Its curriculum offers Christ-centered learning.

“As part of our family, (students) are spiritually, physically and emotionally safe, and they leave here with a foundation of inner strength and balance, ready to take on the world,” the school’s website says.

It offers kindergarten through 12th-grade education for day students and a limited number of boarding students from New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The principal, Brendan Krueger, referred all questions regarding the arrest to the Northern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In a brief statement, the church group said it had placed Boyce on leave and banned him from campus and from having contact with students pending the outcome of the investigation.

“Our current understanding is that this is an isolated incident,” the Northern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists said in a prepared statement. “As ever, the safety and well-being of our students is the highest priority of Pine Tree Academy.”

Counselors have been made available to students, faculty and parents, the conference said.

Christiansen, the spokesman for the regional conference, said he was not authorized to answer questions about whether the student was in a class with Boyce or whether she was a boarding student or a day student.

“Due to the pending investigation, as well as respect for the parties involved, further details about the alleged incident will not be shared at this time,” the conference said in the statement. “Our earnest prayers continue for each person affected by this unfortunate situation.”

TWO COLLEGE DEGREES, MUSICIAN

Boyce’s biography had been removed from the school’s website by midday Wednesday, but an archived version said Boyce taught math and science to upper-level students, and has degrees in chemistry and mathematics from Southern Adventist University and Andrews University.

Boyce also maintained a small YouTube channel that showed him playing trombone and guitar. It features Boyce along with his wife, Ashley Rich, who is also a musician. Some videos show Boyce covering Christian praise music, or playing with the Pine Tree Academy band. There also are recordings of musical performances by Boyce’s wife, who teaches private and group music lessons at Pine Tree Academy, according to its website.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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