WEST PARIS — The District Attorney’s Office has declined to press charges against former Oxford Hills schools Superintendent Monica Henson, saying her physical restraint of a student last September does not meet the legal standard of unreasonable force.

“Jury members in a trial for this case would be instructed on this statutory defense,” District Attorney James Andrews said. “The jury would be told that for the state to prevail it would need to disprove this defense beyond a reasonable doubt.”

State law says a parent, foster parent, guardian or other similar person responsible for the long-term general care and welfare of a child is justified in using a reasonable degree of force against that child when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or punish the child’s misconduct.

The child’s mother, Ashley Rowe, of West Paris filed a complaint with the Maine Department of Health and Human Service and the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, alleging Henson improperly physically restrained her son at Agnes Gray Elementary School on Sept. 9, 2021.

Henson was placed on administrative leave in late January by directors of Maine School Administrative District 17 while the two agencies investigated the complaint. Both investigations concluded in early April. The Sheriff’s Office forwarded its findings to the District Attorney’s Office in Oxford county for review and DHHS notified Rowe and the student’s father, Eric Bennett of Oxford, that its investigation supported the allegations that their child had been a victim of abuse/neglect.

A Maine Department of Health and Human Services’s letter to Ashley Rowe of West Paris says its investigation supported her claims that then-Oxford Hills School District Superintendent Monica Henson improperly physically restrained her child Sept. 9, 2021 at Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris. The District Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute, saying Henson’s actions did not meet the state’s legal standard of unreasonable force. Submitted image

Rowe was informed the last week of June that Henson, who was hired in July 2021 and resigned in April 2020, will not be prosecuted. She said her family is bitterly disappointed and her child feels victimized again.


“He is angry that (Henson) is getting away with assaulting him,” Rowe said. “He feels like he is getting no protection from the Maine justice system. “It is frustrating that every single adult has let him down, from the court system to the school district.”

Rowe said she and her ex-husband have discussed retaining a lawyer and filing a civil suit but have not yet found one to take it on. She said the general message they have been given by the attorneys they have spoken with is that the other involved parties have too many resources to fight a suit filed against them by a family of limited means.

Rowe said one lawyer told her she did not need to keep the confirmation of abuse by DHHS confidential any longer and shared the letter with the newspaper.

As for the school district directors, Chairman Natalie Andrew said, “The SAD 17 school board of directors has not been directly notified by the district attorney of this decision. We are not able to make any comment until the entire board has been informed on the matter.”

Attempts to reach Henson for comment have been unsuccessful.

District Attorney Andrews of Farmington was the fourth prosecutor to review the case. It was originally assigned to Richard Beauchesne, the assistant district attorney for Oxford county, who recused himself.

From South Paris, the case was forwarded to Androscoggin District Attorney Andrew Robinson, who was in the process of being confirmed to become a judge on the Maine District Court. Robinson appointed Androscoggin Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis as the acting top prosecutor for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties and handed off the investigation report to him. At that time Matulis confirmed that the case file was with his office, but then he resigned as a prosecutor within days.

Oxford Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Winter was eventually named by Gov. Janet Mills to be interim district attorney for the tri-county offices. The file was assigned to Andrews.

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