Thompson accused of 13-month sexual relationship with student
The most sensational local news story of 2012 was the accusation that a Franklin Regional teacher had carried on a 13-month sexual relationship with a student.
Bret Anthony Thompson, 42, of Penn Hills, was accused in July of having sex with a female student both on and off the high school's Murrysville campus.
The Murrysville Star does not identify victims in sex-crime cases.
Thompson — who will stand trial in April on more than three dozen charges — resigned from the district in August after spending 13 years teaching wellness and physical education at the district. He also taught physical education online to students in the Belle Vernon, Blairsville, Derry Area, Kiski Area and Yough school districts through the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's eAcademy program as recently as the 2011-12 school year. Intermediate Unit officials said he no longer is teaching through that program.
Thompson's arrest spurred reaction by a group of parents who were angry that Thompson was allowed to resign. That group wanted teachers to sign a paper each year agreeing to a code of conduct. District Solicitor Jack Cambest said that would be difficult to do because of contractual terms and that it wasn't likely to be effective.
Thompson is scheduled for trial April 8 at 9 a.m. in the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas. He faces 42 charges, including 18 counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor and 14 counts of criminal use of a communication facility.
He is free on $5,000 unsecured bail, an amount that was challenged by county assistant district attorney Christiann Flanagan, who is prosecuting the case.
While some of the 42 charges Thompson faces often result in the suspension or loss of a teaching certificate, the state department of education has not yet taken any action against his teaching license.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or firstname.lastname@example.org.