AUBURN — Prosecutors on Friday dropped all charges against a former education technician at Sacopee Valley High School in Hiram who had been accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student at that school.

Zachariah Sherburne, 24, had pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony gross sexual assault as well as to a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge. He was free from Oxford County Jail on $500 cash bail.

His attorney, Allan Lobozzo, said Friday that he received a call from Oxford County Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Winter who was handling Sherburne’s case. She told him her office was no longer pursuing the charges. She confirmed with the Sun Journal on Friday afternoon that the charges had been dismissed.

Lobozzo said his client’s last day of work had been Feb. 11, two weeks after giving notice of his resignation as an education technician and substitute teacher. In his job as ed tech, he worked one on one with a student who was not the teen with whom he had sex, nor was that teen ever a student in classes where he filled in as a substitute teacher, Lobozzo said.

On Feb. 12, Sherburne had a consensual sexual encounter with a 16-year-old student at Sacopee Valley High School, one day after his last day at work.

“It could be bad judgment but not against the law,” Lobozzo said.

Maine law states that a 16-year-old may give consent for sexual relations, but a person in authority, such as a schoolteacher, may not engage in a sex act with a student.

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.

Sherburne was 23 at the time. Sherburne had written a letter to the superintendent tendering his resignation, explaining that he could no longer afford part-time employment and had secured a full-time job.

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

Lobozzo said he established the crucial timeline clearing Sherburne through interviews with his client.

“There was a huge rush to judgment,” Lobozzo said. Sherburne fled the state after he was charged.

“He had to get out of state, there was so much bad publicity,” Lobozzo said.

“This is a huge vindication,” he said. “It feels tremendously good both for Zach, his whole family and myself. He’s very gratified, but it doesn’t undue the damage, really, to everyone.”

Lobozzo had filed a motion to dismiss the charges, citing the discrepancy in the timeline. That motion had been scheduled to be heard in July.

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.

Lobozzo said the publicity over charges against Zachariah Sherburne brought attention to his hiring at his father’s school district.

“His father was really run out of a job,” Lobozzo said.


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