'We could have done better': Police reflect on handling of Springfield sexual assault
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A long-time director of a Springfield charter school was accused of sexually abusing a former student, and later committed suicide amidst the investigation.
According to police documents, the abuse began in 2006 when the student was a 14-year-old freshman, and continued throughout her time at Academy of Arts and Academics.
Jenna McCulley, spokesperson with the Springfield School District, said the current Springfield School District administration did not hear of any suspected abuse until late January of this year.
McCulley said an A3 teacher brought her concerns to the current human resources director, who notified police. Fisher was placed on administrative leave on January 31st. He took his own life the following day.
Lt. Scott Mckee said that someone did report suspicious behavior to a Springfield Police investigator in 2007, as well as to the former 2007 Springfield School District Administration. Fisher was reportedly seen holding hands with the victim and giving her rides. However, Mckee said that police did not investigate further.
"There were fragments of information that were known or suspected and they weren't shared in a way that we all put things together," McKee said. "We could have done better."
"If we have any information that leads us to believe that there might be abuse going on, we will always err on the side of caution. And we should have," Mckee said.
Lt. Mckee said no other students have come forward to report abuse. The case is considered closed, but the Springfield School District is encouraging other students to alert them if they have any concerns.
As the criminal case wraps up, the school district is preparing to launch their own internal review.
"We will thoroughly be looking into both system and individual fracture points," McCulley said. "Because the possibility of this ever occurring again is something that no one can even imagine."
We've also learned that in 2015, the A3 governing board asked students, teachers and parents to conduct a survey connected to sexual assault; two responses mentioned Michael Fisher.
The school's governing baord deleted those two responses, and they were not included in the results that were presented to the Springfield School Board, according to police documents and Springfield District Spokeswoman Jenna McCulley.