PARIS — A former education technician at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old student at the school where he once worked. 

Zachariah Sherburne, 24, the son of a former southern Maine superintendent, pleaded not guilty to both a felony count of gross sexual assault and a count of sexual abuse of a minor, a misdemeanor, in Oxford County Unified Court Wednesday afternoon. He remains free on $500 bail. 

According to an affidavit by Oxford County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Brown, Sherburne told investigators he had sex with the girl at the Kezar Falls Fire Department, where he was a volunteer firefighter, on Feb. 12. They had met at the school and then spoke with each other through Facebook.

Kezar Falls is a small village that straddles the towns of Parsonsfield in York County and Porter in Oxford County. 

After the incident, Sherburne broke off the relationship. According to the affidavit, the girl is now pregnant. She told police she had sex only with the defendant.

According to the complaint, Sherburne engaged in a sexual act with a female student at the time of his employment as an ed tech and substitute teacher at Sacopee Valley High School, which gave him disciplinary authority over her. 

While one of the statutory requisites for gross sexual assault in Maine law is “instructional, supervisory or disciplinary authority” over a student 16 or 17 years of age, sexual abuse of a minor does not have the same criteria. 

Sherburne’s defense attorney, Allan Lobozzo of Lewiston, has filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that his client’s resignation came prior to the incident. In that instance, Lobozzo said, he no longer held a position of authority over her. 

Sherburne’s undated letter of resignation notified School Administration District 55 Superintendent Carl Landry he would like to be released from employment on Feb. 12, the same day of the incident.

In the letter, Sherburne wrote that he could no longer afford part-time employment and had secured a new full-time job.

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the district and give back to the community that has given me so much,” he said. 

Lobozzo said his client’s last day on school grounds was Feb. 11. and that Sherburne had already “cleaned out his desk and his locker, and walked out of the building at Sacopee Valley High School for the last time.” 

In Maine, Lobozzo said, the age of consent for sex with someone 21 and older is 16. The only factor potentially making the incident criminal was Sherburne’s employment at the same school.

In rebuttal to the motion to dismiss, Oxford County Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Winter wrote that the court cannot conduct a pretrial hearing on the facts underpinning the charges of an indictment. 

“Maine and federal law simply does not permit courts to engage in pretrial analysis of the facts to be presented,” Winter wrote. 

According to multiple media reports, after Sherburne left the high school, he was hired as an ed tech for School Administrative District 6 in Buxton, where his father, Frank Sherburne, was superintendent.

Sherburne’s hiring went against the district’s nepotism policy. Revelations that Zachariah Sherburne had been hired despite not first clearing a criminal background check, as required by the Maine Department of Education, led to a community uproar, according to published reports.

In May, Frank Sherburne resigned. 

Sherburne is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. on July 8 for a hearing on the motion to dismiss. 

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