A music educator at a prominent Catholic high school in Vermont's Chittenden County is on administrative leave and has a date in court — after allegedly taking inappropriate photos of female students without their permission.
Brian Lynam, 31, was placed on leave on March 20.
South Burlington Police said a Rice student told the school's principal about seeing Lynam appear to secretly snap a photo up the skirt of a high school girl without her consent.
The school said Monday that police have been tirelessly investigating the allegations, which involved girls both from the Catholic school and from outside the Rice community.
Police said they obtained search warrants and gathered evidence from multiple electronic devices.
Lynam was cited into court to face an allegation of voyeurism.
"This should not happen anywhere, whether public or private, but especially at a Catholic school — it's unbelievable," Rice parent Mahmoud Arani told necn, describing the allegations against Lynam. "It's repugnant."
Another Rice parent, Chris Sheahan, said he has sent three children to Rice High School, adding that while the situation involving the educator is alarming, it doesn’t change his overall opinion of the school as a whole.
"It's still a good place to be, I think, even though that happened," Sheahan said. "Obviously it's more the exception than anything else. It's unfortunate, but you move on — so that's what we're going to have to do."
Rice Memorial High School declined to be interviewed by necn Tuesday, because administrators said they were focusing entirely on supporting students, faculty, staff and other Rice community members upset by the allegations.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington also declined to comment, citing an ongoing police investigation.
In a letter to parents Monday, the school called the accusations "shocking and painful," and urged anyone with more information to come forward.
"It's really disturbing that somebody who's in a position of authority and power over young people would use that opportunity to violate their trust and privacy," said Cathleen Barkley, the executive director of HOPE Works, which advocates for survivors of sexual crimes and aims to end sexual violence.
Barkley said the Burlington-based organization has supported victims of voyeurism many times over the years.
"Like with stalking, you might not be aware that somebody, in that moment, is watching you or observing you, but when you find out after the fact, it's hard for you to know, 'Am I going to know when I'm being violated? Or am I just going to find out after the fact that I was violated?'" Barkley said of the crime of voyeurism. "So I think that can cause a different level of psychological harm to someone."
Lynam will have a chance to answer to the allegations at his scheduled court appearance next month.