Officials at a Freeport religious school noticed earlier this year that a math teacher who is now charged with sexual assault was spending too much time alone with a female student and contacted the student’s parents and the teacher to express their concern, police said.

Derek Michael Boyce faces four felony sex abuse counts.

The Pine Tree Academy teacher, Derek Michael Boyce, 37, of Woolwich, now faces four felony sexual abuse counts stemming from his alleged sexual relationship with the 15-year-old student. The school declined Thursday to answer questions about what it did to prevent the relationship from developing.

Details of the school’s earlier actions were included in a police affidavit filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court in support of the two counts each of gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact that Boyce now faces.

“(The mother of the victim) stated that she had spoken with Derek and the school earlier this year about concerns that Derek had been spending too much time alone with (the victim),” Lisbon Police Detective Sgt. William R. Tapley wrote. “(The victim’s mother) stated she had also received notice from the school that they also had the same concerns and had spoken to Derek about it.”

The Press Herald does not name victims of sexual assault without their consent.

Boyce is being held in the Androscoggin County Jail on $50,000 bail. He is expected to appear in court Dec. 5. He has been placed on leave by the school, and is forbidden from setting foot on its property or communicating with any Pine Tree Academy students, along with bail conditions that require he not contact the victim or anyone else under the age of 18.

The Northern New England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which owns and operates the school, declined to respond to a list of specific questions about the steps it took to address the relationship, opting to release a written statement instead.

“We are aware of comments made in the police affidavit and we are in cooperation with the police as they investigate this matter,” conference spokesman Scott Christiansen wrote. “Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation and the incomplete status of our own accumulation of facts, we have no information to share at this time.”

The affidavit also includes new details about how Boyce and the student carried out the relationship, and how Boyce reacted after the student’s mother discovered them together at the student’s home on Sept. 21. After he was arrested, Boyce told police that he began counseling the victim after she suffered a sports injury and became depressed. The two communicated at first through the messaging app SnapChat, and later, through an encrypted messaging service called Signal. Among the questions the school did not address is whether it has a policy about teachers communicating with students via social media.

The relationship began in May. Boyce told police that when he realized what was happening, he tried to break it off, but a few weeks later the relationship began again. They first had sexual contact in June. Boyce told police he tried again to end the relationship and return to being “just friends” in mid-August, but the victim became angry and the relationship continued, the police affidavit says.

On the night Boyce and the victim were discovered together, the victim’s mother had left the girl home alone to attend an event, but the mother reported to police that she was suspicious that her daughter was engaged in the inappropriate relationship so she came home early to check on her.

When the mother arrived around 9:20 p.m., she found the home was dark, and discovered her daughter and the teacher inside.

After Boyce left the home, he told police he drove to Popham Beach with the intent to drown himself, but got scared after he got into the water. Boyce said he also considered taking his life by jumping off a bridge, but couldn’t go through with it.

When police interviewed him that night, Boyce was still wet from having been in the ocean.

Pine Tree Academy is a private Christian school that has been open since 1974. It offers pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade education for day students and a limited number of boarding students from New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, and currently has 126 students.

Reached by phone Thursday, the mother of the victim declined to describe further how school officials handled their initial concerns, but said she is now concerned about Boyce’s past interactions with students in other places where he has worked.

“My biggest concern is that there are other victims within the conference where he has taught before, out of state, and that’s all I want to say today,” she said.

From 2012 to 2016, Boyce worked at Highland View Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, which is private a Seventh-day Adventist school for high school students, said Highland View Principal Erik Borges.

There were no reported incidents of concern about inappropriately close relationships with students while Boyce worked at Highland View Academy, Boyce had no disciplinary issues related to student-teacher relations and he left the school on good terms, said Andre Hastick, a spokesman for the Chesepeake Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which owns and runs Highland View Academy.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.