A former Cohasset Middle School teacher appeared in court Wednesday on five new charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
Jeffrey Knight, 57, of Pembroke, entered a plea of not guilty at his pre-trial conference hearing in Quincy District Court on the five charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
Knight was released without bail and ordered to stay away from and have no contact with the new victim and witnesses. He was also ordered to stay away from the Cohasset Middle School and to not work or do volunteer work with children under the age of 16. Additionally, he cannot leave the Commonwealth, except to visit his parents in Maine.
On Sept. 20, Knight was originally charged in a criminal complaint with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over. He pleaded not guilty to those charges.
"My client maintains that he is not guilty and has not inappropriately touched any student ever," Knight's attorney Eric Goldman said.
Authorities said the original charges involving the same victim happened multiple times during school in 2017 and 2018. The new charges involve an alleged second victim, according to officials.
"The second case just seems to mirror the first case and it came about after there was a lot of publicity," Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Emily Nelson said.
Knight was placed on leave following the original allegations and he has since resigned from the district.
Knight's attorney said the allegations are very embarrassing for the family.
"It's obviously affected his life. He was a teacher for 30 some odd years. He had to resign because he can't be an effective teacher," Goldman said.
The alleged behavior has some parents dealing with tough conversations.
"Having to have these conversations with young kids is really hard," parent Collen Markham said. "I still don’t know when it's appropriate to say, 'if someone does this to you, you know,' I don't want to instill fear either but I do think we live in a time that these conversations are important to have."
Residents like Michael O'Connor say they will let the justice system decide Knight's fate before they make a judgment.
"In terms of Mr. Knight’s situation, innocent until proven guilty and he deserves the right to stand up for himself and say yay or nay for whatever reason," O'Connor said.
"We have made resources available and have added counselors at the middle and high schools to assist students with questions or concerns," Superintendent Louise Demas said in a statement. "I emphatically support any student who comes forward, and it is my sincere hope that any member of our school community feels comfortable reporting something that they feel is not right."
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Knight is expected to return to court Jan. 30, 2019 for a pre-trial conference on both cases.