A former Christian school teacher arrested in September after allegedly having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old student will serve eight years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to 10 counts, including six counts of Class C gross sexual assault.
Derek Michael Boyce, 37, of Woolwich, who until September taught at Pine Tree Academy in Freeport, was indicted by an Androscoggin County grand jury on 26 counts including gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor.
He pleaded guilty to 10 counts of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact and sexual abuse of a minor and was sentenced to a total of 13 years in prison, with five years suspended, and four years probation, according to Androscoggin County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Bogue, who prosecuted the case. Active Retired Justice Robert Clifford issued the sentence.
As part of a plea agreement, the district attorney’s office dismissed the other 16 counts.
Boyce will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, according to a sentencing agreement.
Lisbon police Chief Marc Hagan said in September that police received information “regarding an inappropriate, possibly unlawful relationship involving an adult male and a female juvenile” that resides in Lisbon.
According to court documents, the victim’s mother told police she had gone to the school earlier this year because she was concerned Boyce was spending too much time alone with her daughter. She said administrators were also concerned and talked to Boyce about it.
In the sentencing memo, Bogue wrote that among aggravating factors were the position of trust Boyce held and that “he had been warned by the victim’s family and his employer to keep a professional relationship with the student and he did not.”
Pine Tree Academy offers “Christ-centered” education to students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the school’s website.
Scott Christensen, communications director for the Northern New England Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, which operates the school, said last week that following an internal review process at the school, Boyce was terminated Sept. 27, 2018, just days after he was arrested.
“The really frustrating thing for us is what really came out in the papers was that he wasn’t certified by the state, but our teachers are accredited and trained, and our schools are certified,” Christensen said, referring to a separate certification process he did not specify.
Boyce is not certified with the Maine Department of Education as a teacher, spokesman Rachel Paling said in September.
“Certification of educators is required in all public schools and in certain approved private schools,” she added. “Pine Tree Academy is not an approved private school.”
“Our concern all along has been our students and it remains with our students as this incredibly painful experience winds down,” Christiansen said last week.
To reach a sexual assault advocate, call the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Line at 800-871-7741, TTY 888-458-5599. This free and confidential 24-hour service is accessible from anywhere in Maine. Calls are automatically routed to the closest sexual violence service provider.