A middle school teacher in Duxbury, Massachusetts, has been fired amid accusations of sexually assaulting a student 15 years ago.
John Blake, a longtime gym teacher and hockey coach at Duxbury Middle School, was placed on leave in the fall. Police are now investigating more than a dozen anonymous tips related to the case, according to The Boston Globe.
A civil lawsuit was filed last week against Blake and the school district by the parents of former student Parker Foley, who died of a drug overdose last year. The lawsuit alleges that Blake sexually assaulted Foley in the school in 2006, and that the school didn't do enough to keep the student safe.
Superintendent John Antonucci addressed the allegations during a school committee meeting Tuesday.
"I hope it goes without saying that we are deeply disturbed by these allegations. The idea that a member of our staff would have hurt a student is an educator’s worst nightmare," Antonucci said. "At the same time, I need to reiterate that the district took all appropriate steps to investigate this matter and obtain relevant facts and then took proper, legal action in this case."
Jason Morgan, an attorney representing the Foley family, said the alleged sex assaults happened multiple times. Foley's mental torment from the assaults pushed him into a life of drug abuse, the lawsuit alleges.
"It broke my heart Parker couldn't come forward with this, but in no way do I judge him," said his father, Joe Foley.
Blake has denied the allegations, according to the Globe, and his lawyer, Kevin Reddington, said Blake took passed a polygraph test Monday. Reddington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“People are making assumptions about John Blake that are way off-base," Reddington told the Globe. "This case is absolutely malicious and not based on any factual evidence whatsoever.”
The victim's father says he wrote an anonymous letter to the district in 2018 identifying Blake as an alleged sexual predator. School officials said they conducted an independent investigation in 2020 and concluded Blake violated its sexual harassment policy and code of conduct.
"It is absolutely untrue that the District failed to take reasonable steps and/or implement reasonable safeguards to avoid such acts from occurring in our schools, as is alleged in the lawsuit," Duxbury Public Schools said in a statement.
Blake has been on temporary leave from the school district since November pending the completion of a comprehensive external investigation and termination proceedings.
After his son's death, Joe Foley said he went to the Duxbury Police Department. Police said criminal charges couldn't be filed because Parker was dead.
Foley says he wants justice for his son.
"Parker was about the greatest kid in the entire world from the time he was a little kid straight up through a young adult," he said. "He cared about others more than he cared for himself."
NBC10 Boston repeatedly tried to contact Blake at his home and on the phone, but attempts so far have been unsuccessful.