Michael Horowitz appears in Franklin County Superior Courier, Criminal Division with his attorney Bud Allen, last month as he pleads not guilty to one count of prohibited acts.
Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

Michael Horowitz, the former shop teacher at Richford High School is facing criminal charges and has been put on administrative leave following an investigation recently into inappropriate conduct with both students and teachers at the school.

According to court documents, Horowitz was initially accused by a student at the school who said he “grabbed” her butt during class.

When pushed by the investigating officer, the girl confirmed to the officer that he “grabbed her butt, not just brushed up against it.”

During the course of the police investigation, the investigator learned that prior misconduct left Horowitz on administrative leave. That conduct, according to the officer’s report, included talking to students about which students are “hotter” than others, as well as an incident where Horowitz allegedly looked up the skirt of a female teacher as she went up the stairway at the school, then bragged about it to students later.

The officer interviewed several students and teachers in the course of the investigation, all of whom confirmed sexual harassment on the part of Horowitz.

The behavior dates back to the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, according to documents obtained by the County Courier, but Horowitz remained working until at least the beginning of December.

The County Courier is the first news agency to report on the allegations against Horowitz.

Horowitz, a resident of Marshfield, entered a not guilty plea in Franklin County Criminal Court last month and was released on conditions, including he not go to the Richford High School, or have any contact with the victims’ names in the case.

According to documents, one student recalled Horowitz commenting in class, “It’s really weird knowing that you can look up a teacher’s dress when she is walking up the stairs.”

That student went on to tell the officer that the teacher was none other than Horowitz’ boss, Principal Beth O’Brien.

When police contacted Horowitz, he told them it was a misunderstanding, according to his court file. He later declined to talk further with the police and referred them to his attorney.

A request for comment from Principal Beth O’Brien were not returned, however Superintendent Lynn Cota did address a request for comment, saying that personnel issues could not be addressed, but she could talk in general about the process when concerns of this nature arise.

“Generally, when an employee is accused of serious misconduct, we place the employee on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of our internal investigation.  During that time, the employee is not permitted to return to school or have contact with our students.  If the investigation substantiates that there has been serious misconduct, we take immediate disciplinary action, usually termination.” Cota said in a written statement, “We are committed to student safety and will not tolerate any behavior by our employees that are not consistent with the highest professional standards.  We also work collaboratively with law enforcement, to the extent possible, so that there is accountability.”

Cota confirmed to the County Courier that Horowitz is no longer an employee of the school district, however as of Wednesday afternoon his name was still listed on the school’s website as an employee of the school.

Cota did not reply to a request asking when Horowitz was terminated, or if the school had contacted parents to discuss these concerns with them.

If convicted on the charge of Prohibited Acts, Horowitz could be sentenced up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $300. He may also be required to file as a sex offender. 

© County Courier, 2019