Bedford School District Hires Attorney to Investigate Possible Misconduct

Aug 10, 2018

Attorney Debra Weiss Ford will independently investigate three Bedford School District staffers' support of a convicted child sexual abuser at her sentencing hearing.
Credit Jackson Lewis Law Firm

After weeks of public pressure, the Bedford School District has hired an attorney to examine how and why three district staffers came to serve as character witnesses for Kristie Torbick, a former Bedford High School guidance counselor who plead guilty last month to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old Exeter High School student. 

Attorney Debra Weiss Ford, the managing principal and office litigation manager for Jackson Lewis PC in Portsmouth, will conduct an independent investigation of the staffers' support of Torbick.

"There's questions as to, were there in fact laws broken or not?" Interim Superintendent Mike Fournier said. "Were there ethical standards broken?"

Bedford High School Dean of Students Zana Blaney testified at Torbick's sentencing hearing that her former colleague was not a danger to students. Former Superintendent Chip McGee, who authorized Blaney's testimony, resigned in July. 

Two Bedford High School guidance counselors, Alison Mattson and Christine Mulcahey, submitted letters in support of Torbick's character without permission from the district. 

Many Bedford parents believe that all three staffers should lose their jobs. 

"The anxiety is increasing everyday as we get closer and closer to the start of school that this situation is going to be unresolved," said Kamee Verdrager, who has four children in the district. 

Fournier says he is sensitive to that concern. 

"One of the major goals is to see if we can get the investigation, and any action that may or may not happen, completed prior to the start of the school year," he said. 

School starts on August 28th in Bedford. Fournier says he has asked the High School guidance office to prepare for the possiblity that Blaney, Mattson, and Mulcahey may not return to their jobs.