Prosecutors have filed a felony sexual assault charge against Frenchtown teacher Troy Bashor for allegedly molesting a student.
Bashor already was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault in October for allegedly fondling a different student at the school. The Frenchtown School District placed Bashor, a music teacher, on paid leave after the initial charge was filed.
In new court documents filed on Monday, deputy county attorney Brian Lowney wrote that the new charge is related to alleged conduct between Bashor and a second student from the summer of 2014 through the start of last year.
That student told a Missoula County sheriff’s detective that Bashor repeatedly hugged her and put his hands on her. When she told her mother about the conduct more than three years ago, the mother said it was inappropriate and told the investigator she had reported it to school officials.
The girl said that Bashor gave her a backrub that went down her spine until he was touching her lower back and the top of her buttocks, at which point she left the room.
After that, Bashor would frequently rub the girl’s back and leave his hand on her, she told the detective. She said she thought Bashor touched her in some way every day during seventh grade.
The student’s mother told the Missoulian last spring that when she initially reported the behavior to the school three years ago, she was told the issue would be taken care of and that Frenchtown Superintendent Randy Cline had spoken to Bashor. She said that Bashor stopped his inappropriate contact for a few months, but that the behavior started again in the next school year.
Cline told the Missoulian that the girl reported only that Bashor made her feel uncomfortable, and had not alleged what he believed was “inappropriate contact.” He said in the spring that he'd talked to Bashor after the girl’s mother first reported her concerns, but the school didn’t discipline him because no formal complaint was filed.
The newly filed affidavit said that the girl told investigators Bashor’s behavior started again the next school year and included rubbing and poking her belly button, and that Bashor began rubbing the girl’s back after an injury even when she told him not to.
In the misdemeanor charge, Bashor is accused of fondling and attempting to kiss another student, who last year was granted an order or protection under which Bashor is forbidden from approaching her. The allegations in the charge include Bashor repeatedly touching the girl inappropriately, pulling her onto his lap while he was sitting down, and in December 2016 putting his hands up her clothes near her breasts.
Bashor told the detective he denied touching that girl at all, and that while he may have touched the other girl’s lower back, it was innocuous. Bashor pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor in November, and has another court appearance scheduled for early March. No hearing has been set for an appearance on the felony charge.
The parents of the girl whose allegations are the basis of the misdemeanor charge have also filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against Frenchtown School District, saying the school was warned of Bashor’s behavior and didn’t act. That lawsuit contains information about the girl whose reports resulted in the felony charge, including that her mother had brought forward information about Bashor years earlier.
The district has denied being made aware of many of the incidents the girl reported to law enforcement, and has asked a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit.
After hearing allegations from the two girls at the start of last year, the school conducted an internal Title IX investigation and eventually placed Bashor on three days of unpaid leave. A summary of the Title IX investigation report given to the Missoulian by Cline said Bashor had “broken several professional boundaries with female students” and that he admitted to giving “side hugs” to students, but believed those were always mutual.
The district’s investigation mentions the girls' claims of more inappropriate physical conduct, but does not address them or include any response by Bashor about them. Cline said at the time the district was not able to substantiate one girl’s allegations that Bashor put his hands up her shirt and down her pants.
In March, around 100 students and parents attended a Frenchtown school board meeting to voice their support of Bashor, holding signs with phrases like “Broncs for Bash” and “Bashor Changes Lives.”