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Troy Bashor, left, sits with his attorney Peter Lacny on Tuesday in Missoula County Justice Court, where Bashor pleaded not guilty to a charge of misdemeanor sexual assault. Bashor, a Frenchtown High School music teacher, is accused of fondling and attempting to kiss a student.

A Frenchtown High School music teacher pleaded not guilty Tuesday after being accused of fondling and attempting to kiss a student.

Troy Bashor was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault in late October and given a summons to appear in court. Justice of the Peace Landee Holloway allowed him to continue to be out on his own recognizance, but said he can't have contact with any minors other than members of his family and can't go back to Frenchtown school property.

According to an affidavit, a student aide of Bashor’s reported he had been “touchy” with her and other female students.

Frenchtown School District Superintendent Randy Cline announced after the charge was filed that Bashor was put on paid leave indefinitely. The student involved no longer goes to school at Frenchtown, he said.

The girl told investigators that during school hours, Bashor touched her inappropriately over her clothes and had lifted up her shirt and touched her belly button.

At one point, she allegedly told Bashor she was interested in becoming a massage therapist and Bashor offered to teach her specific techniques, even demonstrating some. The victim said that once, Bashor pulled her onto his lap while she was proofreading his emails and that when she abruptly got off, he said, “My wife will be here soon anyways and I’m sure she wouldn’t like that.”

The student said in December, when she and another student were helping Bashor take down the set from a play at the school, Bashor “placed his hand on her butt.” When she moved away, Bashor allegedly followed her and tried to hug her, then “stuck his hands up” her shirt and moved them toward her breasts, court documents said.

When she pulled away, the girl reported, Bashor came toward her and attempted to kiss her. She said she jumped back to avoid this contact, at which point Bashor said, “Oh, that was awkward.”

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office was notified by the Child Abuse Hotline on Jan. 11 that it had information indicating a Frenchtown High School student had been sexually abused by Bashor.

A sheriff’s deputy spoke with Bashor, who denied touching the student. The misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. Bashor's next court appearance will be Jan. 17.

In March, a student at Frenchtown High School was granted an order of protection against Bashor by Holloway after the girl reported he inappropriately touched and molested her. The order of protection lists sexual assault as its basis, and describes a situation identical to that listed in the charging documents filed last month.

A second girl also told school officials Bashor has touched her inappropriately over the course of three school years.

At the start of the year, after learning of the girls’ allegations, Frenchtown School District conducted an internal Title IX investigation that ended with Bashor being suspended for three days, although he returned to work until the charge was filed.

In early 2016 another Frenchtown teacher, Michael Botsford, was charged with endangering the welfare of children, a misdemeanor, for exchanging thousands of text messages — including ones that were sexual — with a student. Botsford resigned from the school after being put on leave in April 2015, around the same time that a criminal investigation into his conduct began. He eventually pleaded guilty and received a six-month suspended sentence.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for The Missoulian.