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Troy Bashor, left, sits with his attorney Peter Lacny in Missoula County Justice Court in November 2017. Bashor, a Frenchtown High School music teacher, pleaded no contest to molesting students on Thursday and received no jail time.

A Frenchtown teacher will spend no time in jail for molesting two students after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors and receiving a fully-suspended one year jail sentence on Thursday.

Troy Bashor will have to permanently surrender his teaching certificate and is barred from having unsupervised contact with any minors other than family while he's on probation. But he will not have to register as a sex offender.

“You’ve destroyed essentially the trusting relationship that exists between a teacher and students,” District Court Judge Leslie Halligan told Bashor.

When asked why there would be no jail time in his recommendation, Deputy County Attorney Brian Lowney told Halligan on Thursday that the two high school girls he victimized supported the plea agreement. It changed the felony and misdemeanor counts of sexual assault to two misdemeanors for endangering the welfare of children.

Lowney said the girls main priority was that Bashor no longer be allowed to teach or molest additional students.

Halligan responded, "I suspect that there may be others” who already have been victimized and have not come forward.

Bashor pleaded no contest to the two misdemeanors, and received the longest sentence for each count — a total of a year in jail — although the sentences were all suspended.

Bashor has been on paid administrative leave since October when charges were first filed against him.

In a statement Thursday Frenchtown School District attorney Elizabeth Kaleva said it received a notice of resignation from Bashor after his court appearance, and that Superintendent Randy Cline has accepted that resignation.

***

In early 2017, one of the students was granted an order of protection against Bashor after reporting multiple incidents in which he molested her, including touching her inappropriately in the school auditorium in late 2016 and attempting to kiss her.

Bashor was charged with misdemeanor sexual assault stemming from that girl’s reports in October. In January a felony charge was added after a second girl reported that Bashor had repeatedly had inappropriate contact with her from the summer of 2014 through the start of the 2017 school year.

That behavior included multiple backrubs, hugging, and touching her belly button, which the girl reported continued even after Bashor was warned by school administrators.

***

Both of the girls he molested were in the courtroom for sentencing, with one reading her own statement and another having a statement read by a crime victim advocate.

Both statements referenced the blowback the girls experienced after accusing their teaching of molestation last year.

One of the girls told the judge she could never go back to being the “old me.”

"I will not be afraid, I will be strong,” she said. “I will stop viewing this tragic event as the event that ruined me.”

Both girls said they were called liars by classmates and members of the Frenchtown community after coming forward, with one saying she was told to kill herself.

“I spent nights crying over people that believed him instead of me,” the second girl wrote in her statement, read by a crime victim advocate. “I believed in you and in turn your actions caused me not to believe in myself.”

In March 2017, after the order of protection against Bashor was granted to one of the students, an estimated 100 students and parents attended a Frenchtown school board meeting in support of the teacher, holding signs with phrases like “Broncs for Bash” and “Bashor Changes Lives.”

On Thursday, as each of the statements reached a point about the girls being called liars, Bashor’s wife, seated in the gallery, nodded her head in agreement.

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She later shook her head no as Halligan apologized to the girls for what they went through.

Bashor — who was set to go to trial later this month — faced away from the victims as the statements were read, hands folded on the table in front of him.

Before his client was sentenced, Bashor’s attorney Peter Lacny reminded Halligan that his client had pleaded no contest but had not pleaded guilty.

As part of his sentence, Bashor must get a psychosexual evaluation and follow any treatment recommendations from it.

Halligan also barred him from going on any school property or attending any school-related functions during his year of probation.

Bashor was put on paid suspension by the school district after first being charged last fall.

One of the students and her parents have filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against Frenchtown School District, saying it did not do enough to protect its students or to handle the allegations once they were made.


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