A second Frenchtown High School student has been interviewed by the Missoula County Sheriff's detective investigating music teacher Troy Bashor, telling the officer Bashor repeatedly touched her in inappropriate ways.
The student’s mother told the Missoulian the conduct has continued for three school years, even after she alerted school administration two years ago and was told the issue would be taken care of.
“My daughter, she just wants to be able to go to class and not have him put his hands on her body,” the girl’s mother said. “I cannot tell you how many nights (she) cried, knowing she would have to go back to school and see him.”
Last week, another female student was granted a final order of protection against Bashor following an evidence hearing about whether he inappropriately touched her several times during the school year.
Frenchtown Superintendent Randy Cline said Monday that Frenchtown High School Principal Jake Haynes told him that Detective Robert Kennedy had said Jan. 25 no charges would be filed against Bashor.
Although Kennedy was out of the office Monday and Tuesday, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said Tuesday he'd told her the criminal investigation is active. It could be referred to the Missoula County Attorney’s Office as soon as this week for a decision on whether charges will be filed, she said.
Bassett confirmed that the detective has interviewed two girls in the case.
Earlier this year, Frenchtown School District conducted a Title IX investigation after the two girls' allegations against Bashor came to their attention. According to a summary of the investigation provided by Cline, Bashor was placed on paid administrative in mid-January during the investigation.
The Sheriff's Office notified the district Jan. 13 that the girl who later was granted the restraining order had filed a complaint against Bashor. That same day, the other girl also came forward, saying Bashor had been having inappropriate and unwanted contact with her, according to the summary report of a Title IX investigation the school conducted.
After interviewing the girls, their parents, and Bashor – as well as other teachers and students at the school – the district concluded Bashor had texted students and played video games with them using apps on their phones, and had physical contact with them that he shouldn't have.
When interviewed by the school, Bashor said he gives “side hugs” to his students, including the girls, but said they are always mutual, adding that he regrets doing it, according to the report. He said the texting is always professional and centered around school, although acknowledging that he plays games with some of his students using phone apps.
The investigation summary mentions the claims of more inappropriate physical contact but does not address them. On Friday Cline said the district was unable to substantiate one girl's allegations that Bashor had put his hand up her shirt and down her pants.
“Based on his own admissions and the statements of the students filing complaints, as well as several witnesses, Mr. Bashor has broken several professional boundaries with female students,” the investigation concluded, specifically citing the hugs, texts and gaming as violations.
The high school principal and assistant principal who conducted the investigation recommended Bashor be put on suspension without pay for three days, with that suspension coming out of Bashor’s time on administrative leave. He returned from that leave on Jan. 30.
He was absent from the school for another period starting in late February after the girl’s temporary order of protection banned him from entering Frenchtown High School.
Under the terms of that final order of protection, issued after a hearing in Missoula County Justice Court, Bashor is allowed at the school, but must stay 15 feet away from her at all times.
On Friday, Bashor's attorney Peter Lacny declined to comment on the criminal investigation, and said he and his client had not made a decision on whether to appeal the order of protection.
The other girl’s mother said her daughter is in a different grade than the student who was granted the restraining order, and that the two hadn’t spent time together until becoming involved in the investigation.
The mother said that two years ago, her daughter told her Bashor was rubbing her back and tickling her belly button at school.
She contacted school administration then, and was told Cline had spoken to Bashor about the incidents. Cline told the Missoulian on Monday that at that point, the girl had only alleged that Bashor made her feel uncomfortable, and that there were no allegations of “inappropriate contact.”
Cline said he explained the student’s concern to Bashor, but because there was no complaint filed, the school did not discipline him.
The behavior stopped for awhile, the second girl’s mother said, but by the next school year Bashor started again.
“I feel, honestly, the school protected him and not my daughter,” she said.
That girl didn’t tell her mother the behavior had started again until December, the mother said. Her mother said the more recent allegations are slightly different than those from two years ago, with Bashor now allegedly pulling her daughter into very tight hugs, grabbing her hand in the hallways, and trying to get her to come to the choir room alone with him.
“It seemed like he was singling her out among all the kids,” the mother said.
These allegations are also included in the Title IX investigation summary, but are not addressed.
Her daughter eventually went to another teacher, who reported the behavior to the principal, who called the girl’s mother and said he was forwarding the allegations to law enforcement. The girl told the Missoulian she was interviewed in mid-January by the sheriff's detective investigating Bashor.