Frenchtown music teacher pleads not guilty to sexual assault

A civil settlement is reached in the case of a teacher at Frenchtown High School teacher accused of inappropriately touching students. 

A joint notice of settlement was filed in Missoula County Court Tuesday morning.

Attorneys for one of the victims were asking Frenchtown School District and Superintendent Randy Cline to pay damages for "past, present and future emotional pain and suffering" along with "ongoing and severe mental anguish." 

Frenchtown School District released a statement saying the settlement amount is $350,000. Superintendent Randy Cline says the school district admits no liability, and that the payment is a financial decision to avoid the cost of going to trial:

The Frenchtown School District and its insurance company have agreed to settle the Title IX lawsuit brought by the parents of a former student. The amount of the settlement is $350,000, which includes any and all alleged damages and attorney fees. By settling the lawsuit, the School District does not admit to any liability. Instead, resolving the lawsuit before trial made economic sense given that the District could be liable for the Plaintiffs’ attorney fees, which have been estimated to be about $500,000 if the case went to trial.  In addition, the District would have incurred its own significant legal fees regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. The teacher accused of misconduct in the lawsuit has resigned, and resolving the case now allows the District and its staff to devote their time and resources to providing students with a high-quality education. The District is not at liberty to disclose any further details beyond disclosure of the settlement and that which has already been publicly filed in the context of the lawsuit; thus, no further comment will be provided.

The case centers around a series of alleged incidents in which theater teacher Troy Bashor was accused of inappropriately touching female students.

Lawyers for the victim say the school system knew about complaints against Bashor years before the abuse occurred. They say the district did not do enough to protect the student and they filed a Title IX complaint in December of 2017. 

The complaint says Bashor often touched female student and talked to her about his marital troubles.

At one point, documents say, he became fascinated with details of a student's menstrual cycle. Then, they say he tried to kiss that student and slid his hands under her sweatshirt while they were alone in the auditorium. Documents say the student avoided telling her parents, but later revealed the incident.

Her lawyers say the victim received significant backlash from the community as they rallied around Bashor, who was a favorite teacher. 

Bashor pleaded "no contest" to the charges in August. He received a one-year suspended sentence which means he'll spend no time in jail. 

The plaintiff's attorneys are Helena-based Meloy Law Firm and Colorado-based Hutchinson, Black and Cook. The latter firm was recently in national headlines for also representing Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in her sexual assault accusation against now-Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Story updated 2:15 PM October 30 with a statement from Frenchtown school.

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