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Charge may be dropped in Voorheesville school biting case

Thursday, April 19, 2012
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— An endangering charge lodged against a popular Voorheesville Elementary School teacher accused of biting a student has been adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

A village justice agreed Monday to dismiss the charge against Michael Guerette, 50, of Voorheesville, and seal the case, provided he stays out of legal trouble over the next six months.

The resolution of the case was agreed to in conference by Albany County prosecutors, Guerette’s attorney and the family of the fifth-grader he was accused of biting.

Guerette also agreed to write a letter of apology to the girl’s family. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple was satisfied with the resolution, considering the girl’s family offered their support.

“It’s a tough case,” he acknowledged. “I know there was an overwhelming swell of support for the teacher.”

But there was also evidence of wrongdoing, Apple said, enough evidence that investigators thought the case warranted the misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. “It was such a bizarre case,” he said.

The incident occurred Dec. 13 when a playful tussle broke out in Guerette’s class. Investigators said the teacher allowed a fifth-grade boy to arm wrestle with him.

While wrestling, the other students, including the victim, became excited and were pulling and pushing on the arm of the child who was wrestling Guerette to try to cause the boy to win.

The girl told investigators that she reached her arm across the desk in front of Guerette and pulled on the hand of the student who was wrestling the teacher. Guerette then allegedly bit her forearm, leaving what the student said were teeth marks.

The bite mark eventually turned to bruising on the child’s arm, which was still visible 48 hours later, when examined by school officials. After the school day ended, Guerette reported the incident to his principal, sparking an internal investigation by the school district and then a criminal probe.

The school district placed Guerette on administrative leave pending results of the investigation. District Superintendent Teresa Snyder said the court has not apprised the school district of the resolution of the criminal case and the internal investigation also is not concluded.

 
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