If you or someone you know needs resources or assistance related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.
A 20-year-old brewing woman claims in a federal lawsuit that she was sexually abused between the ages of 13 and 15 by a man hired by the Brewery School Department to work as an athletic trainer at the city’s high school.
The Bangor Daily News does not designate the woman because she is the victim of alleged sexual abuse.
The lawsuit, filed this week in U.S. district court in Bangor, lists several defendants, including his alleged assailant, Benjamin Pushard; his parents and brother; its former employer, Heawer Chiropractic LLC of Brewer, and its owner, Dr. Patrick Healy; the brewery school department; high school principal Samantha Pangburn; school softball coach Morgan Small; and an unidentified brewing police officer.
She is seeking $ 5 million in compensation and $ 10 million in punishment.
Plaintiff alleges that all of the defendants, except Pushard, knew or should have known that Pwerhard, 27, of Brewer, had sex with a student and should have intervened to protect her from him. When the lawsuit was filed Monday, the plaintiff had not yet reported the abuse to police, according to her attorney Ezra Willey of Bangor.
The age of consent for sexual intercourse in Maine is 16 years. Even if a person is over the age of 16 and consents to contact or sexual intercourse, in Maine it is illegal for anyone with “instructive, supervisory, or disciplinary authority” over that person to engage in sexual activity with that person. . This includes teachers, coaches, and correctional officers.
Pushard did not respond to any requests for comment. It has not been determined whether Pushard hired a lawyer.
Jason Moffitt, Brewer’s director of public safety, said Thursday that since the city was named in the lawsuit, “we referred the case to an outside agency (Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office) to prevent the appearance of conflicts “.
The school department hires Healy to provide athletic coaching services to students, according to Superintendent Gregg Palmer.
Pushard worked for Healy until April 15, when the Brewery School Department received a notice of claim, the first step in filing a lawsuit, from Willey.
“After receiving the plaintiff’s complaints about Mr. Pushard, the superintendent notified Dr. Healy that he immediately went to where Mr. Pushard worked and terminated his work,” according to the school department. “He hasn’t worked with Healy or the school department since.”
Palmer also said the department is studying the plaintiff’s allegations.
“We care nothing more than the safety of our students, and the policies and procedures we have in place are there to protect them,” he said Wednesday. “Our school committee, the administration, the teachers and all the staff are committed to the safety of the students and that is the focus of our mission.”
Healy on Thursday referred questions about the lawsuit to his lawyer, Tyler Smith, of Kennebunk. Smith said the alleged sexual abuse happened before Pushard was hired in August 2018 to work for Healy.
“Mr. Pushard was not employed or affiliated with Healy Chiropractic at the time of the alleged occurrences described in the complaint, “Smith said.” Mr. Pushard no longer works with Healy Chiropractic. Complaints against my clients are useless and we trust they will be dismissed. “.
Pushard was still listed as an employee on the Healy Chiropractic website on Wednesday morning, but after a call from the BDN to request a comment on the lawsuit, the information was removed.
Pushard grew up in Brewer and went to school there. He played basketball and basketball in high school and graduated from the University of Maine, according to the deleted biography.
The complaint meticulously exposes how Pushard and the then teenager met through Snapchat, Twitter and other social media platforms. The student first contacted Pushard in late 2014 at the suggestion of Small’s junior softball coach, Brewer High School, who had released him in high school.
Small allegedly told the girl that Pushard “was a very kind and helpful person” and that he could possibly help her in her mental health struggles. At first, communication between the two did not include flirting, but that changed in early 2015, and in June of that year, Pushard began having sex with her a month after age 14, according to the complaint. .
During that softball season, Brewer High School softball coach Danielle McDonough learned that an unrelated adult man, now believed to be Pushard, had given the girl a trip home after school. practice, according to the complaint. The coach spoke with the girl’s parents and said he would only allow the plaintiff to return home with her sister or other family members, but McDonough did not report the incident to school officials.
In April 2017, Pushard and the 15-year-old had regular sex and were gossiped about by other students, according to the complaint. The girl allegedly went to Pangburn and expressed concern about rumors that she and Pushard were having sex. He told the director that he did not know Pushard very well and that he did not know why there were rumors about them.
“Director Pangburn didn’t take what [the girl] he said more and ended up in his office, “the complaint said.”[She] he took no action. At the very least, Pangburn should have investigated why rumors were circulating to rule out harassment.
Pushard took steps to hide that he was having sex with a young teenager and was worried he might be charged with a sex offense, according to the complaint. He met her in the parking lots, then put her in the back of his Jeep and covered her up so they wouldn’t see her. According to the lawsuit, he would drive to her parents ’house, park in the garage, and sneak her into the house to have sex with her.
Plaintiff terminated the relationship in May 2017, but has suffered physically and emotionally due to abuse, has suffered loss of enjoyment of life and recreational activities, has incurred medical costs and loss of capacity. to win, all this will continue in the future, he denounced.
“Benjamin Pushard, assaulted [the] suing without her consent or a valid basis by approaching her, physically assaulting her, improperly detaining her and requiring her to engage in sexual conduct with him, prohibiting her from leaving voluntarily and intimidating, harassing and assaulting [her], and invade their privacy, even by recording sex videos and photographs, ”the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiff requests a jury trial.
Correction: An earlier version of this report accurately indicated the age of the victim in 2017.