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After Losing Job For Testifying In Sexual Assault Case, Former Bedford Dean Files Lawsuit

Savannah Maher/NHPR

A former Dean of Students at Bedford High School is suing the school district, arguing her termination after providing testimony in a sexual assault case was a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Zanna Blaney was put on leave in August 2018 after she gave character testimony on behalf of Kristie Torbick.

Torbick, who previously worked as a guidance counselor in Bedford under Blaney, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 14-year old student in Exeter.

According to court paperwork filed Monday, Blaney says her testimony was limited to Torbick’s “positive work performance” while she was employed in Bedford, and that she only did so after consulting with the superintendent of the school district, Chip McGee.

Blaney’s participation in the trial sparked an outcry from parents, who argued it appeared that she was mitigating the actions of a sexual predator.

Superintendent McGee resigned last July; Blaney was placed on leave in early August, and her contract was terminated the following month.

In a federal court filing, Blaney says she “was fired for providing truthful testimony protected by the First Amendment.” Her lawsuit also argues that as a public employee, she “has a full right to publicly discuss and give opinions” on matters related to government entities.

She’s seeking reinstatement to her position, as well as lost wages and compensatory damages.

(This story may be updated as more information becomes available.)

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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