Investigators: 2004 abuse probe against Scott Muir 'he said, she said'
PITTSFIELD -- An investigation into sexual abuse charges against former school counselor Scott M. Muir was abandoned in 2004 because, in the end, the allegations could not be substantiated.
"You didn't know who to believe," state Trooper Jean Thibodeau testified on Wednesday.
Thibodeau, from the Berkshire County Detective Unit, and Roann Vecchia, an investigator for the state Department of Children and Families, were in agreement during their testimony in Muir's rape trial in Berkshire Superior Court.
Both told the court that allegations that Muir inappropriately touched two former students at Stockbridge Plain School in 2004 were "he said, she said." Muir, who worked as the student support center coordinator at the school during the 2004-05 school year, had an explanation for both events, said Thibodeau.
Muir, 39, is facing a total of 20 charges in connection with allegations that he inappropriately touched five children -- now young women -- at the Plain School and Muddy Brook Elementary School between 2003-06.
Muir has denied the allegations, which range from rubbing young girls' buttocks and body to digital genital penetration. He is out on $10,000 bail.
So far, the trial has, for the most part, focused on the 2004 alleged incidents. Muir reportedly gave one child a piggyback ride and touched her buttocks. On another occasion, he touched another girl's buttocks and body. Both girls were 8 at the time.
In response, there were a total of three investigations in 2004, carried out by the DCF, the state police and the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, Muir's employer. Witnesses for all three organizations testified that the 2004 investigation did not bear fruit.
However, in 2012, a fourth investigation instigated once again by the state police, uncovered three more victims. Muir was arrested and charged again.
Prior to the testimony of Thibodeau and Vecchia, several teachers and administrators testified that they saw no inappropriate behavior on Muir's part with any of the students with whom he interacted.
Virginia "Ginny" Passetto, a retired teacher with 30 years' experience, explained that the victim whom Muir had taken on a piggyback ride told Passetto that Muir touched her buttocks.
"She told me, ‘Mr. Muir touched my butt!,' " Passetto recounted. "But it was in a light-hearted manner. She didn't seem upset."
Defense attorney William A. Rota asked Passetto if she had ever witnessed any inappropriate activity by Muir.
"No," Passetto said. "Never."
A second Plain School teacher, Kathleen Gillis, when asked when the alleged incident took place, said she believed it was in the spring because she recalled the child "was wearing a dress."
Teacher Lorraine Roman told prosecuting attorney Joseph Yorlano that while Muir was popular, "he was kind of a loner. No one knew him very well. We would organize outings to go out for a drink after classes, and he never came with us."
Later, Roman added that she was concerned that the amount of hugging carried out by Muir in particular and other male members of the staff at the school in general was, in her mind, excessive "and they should maybe be careful."
But, she said, she never saw Muir acting inappropriately with the students.
Testimony continues on Thursday.
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