Professor who supported sexual-assault defendant loses job
PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — A Plymouth State University professor who publicly supported a guidance counselor who sexually assaulted a 14-year-old won’t be rehired after calling the teenager a “pursuer,” the university’s president said on Wednesday.
Nearly two dozen educators and others had attended a July 9 sentencing on behalf of 39-year-old guidance counselor Kristie Torbick, who pleaded guilty to four counts of felonious sexual assault against an Exeter High School student and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in prison.
Graduate teaching lecturer Nancy Strapko had written a letter about her therapy sessions with Torbick and insisted Torbick wasn’t a predator. She wrote that the 14-year-old victim “was truly the pursuer.”
University president Donald Birx and provost Robin Dorff said in a statement that Strapko’s portrayal is “legally wrong and morally reprehensible.” A message seeking comment was left for Strapko.
Two other Plymouth State professors who wrote letters in support of Torbick, Michael Fischler and Garry Goodnough, have agreed to complete additional training on sexual assault before returning to teach, Birx and Dorff said. They also agreed to work closely with students, faculty members and staff to address issues and concerns created by their letters.
Goodnough, who served as Torbick’s adviser and internship supervisor at Plymouth State, wrote that “no benefit to society would be served by incarcerating her.”
Torbick worked in Bedford for five years before transferring to Exeter. There were no complaints about her there.
Last week, the school superintendent resigned over his decision to allow employees to publicly support Torbick at the sentencing. Chip McGee had faced growing criticism from parents.