Parents and students from the Redmond Proficiency Academy expressed shock and disbelief Monday, after the school's director was arrested over the weekend and accused of sexual contact with a student. The school's students are still mourning the death of two girls killed in a car accident two weeks ago, and many said they are trying to stay strong.
Saturday's arrest came one day after officials with the charter school contacted police to inform them of allegations of sexual contact with a student by director Michael Richard Bremont, 39, of Redmond, said police Lt. Nathan Garibay.
Even though the school was closed for Presidents' Day, a small group met in the parking lot on Monday, ready to show their support.
"Whether this happened, or that happened, we want to be there," said freshman Isaiah Brooks. "If he's guilty or not, we want to be there."
Redmond ?detectives immediately began investigating the allegations with the full support and cooperation of the Redmond Proficiency Academy Board of Directors and the superintendent of the Redmond School District,? Garibay said in a news release late Saturday night.
Many parents said they don't want their kids speculating before the investigation is complete.
"Its been stressful on all the parents, and I know they're shell-shocked," said Hope Thompson-Shearer, parent of a junior and freshman at the school. "But I want to remind RPA parents that we do have a good school and a good system, and make sure we're not making pre-judgements."
Thompson-Shearer's oldest daughter, Breeana, went on a college tour with Bremont. She said he was always professional and helpful.
"I saw the way he interacted with his kids, and he's a great dad, I know that," Breeana said. "I think he's innocent until proven guilty."
Breeana's younger sister, Cassie, who is a freshman added, "They don't know the truth. They don't know what's going on. They don't know what's running through Mr. Bremont's head right now."
After that investigation, Bremont was contacted by detectives in Redmond on Saturday and arrested around 4 p.m. He was lodged at the Deschutes County Jail in Bend on more than $30,000 bail.
He posted 10 percent bail and was released late Sunday night, pending a March 16 court date,
The charges include third-degree attempted rape, third-degree sodomy, second-degree sex abuse, two counts of third-degree sex abuse, contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, sexual misconduct, private indecency and three counts of official misconduct.
Redmond Police Department detectives are continuing the investigation and asked that anyone with additional information to contact them at (541) 504-3400.
Bonnie Williams, who's daughter attends the school, said, "She's in shock, just like the rest of us are. She just thinks that they're not true. She doesn't know who would have charged him. She doesn't believe it and her friends don't believe it either."
Police also distributed a statement from the Redmond Proficiency Academy, saying they had placed Bremont on paid administrative leave Saturday evening.
"Absolutely stunned and shocked," said Thompson-Shearer. "There's not ever even been a rumor of any kind of misconduct or inappropriate behavior on Mr. Bremont's part, that I have seen."
She added, "Because Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr are all such huge social networking devices, the kids need to be careful about what they write about the allegations -- and they really need to watch the rumors. We are definitely innocent until proven guilty."
"Mr. Bremont has been a really nice person, and my daughter thinks he's wonderful," Williams said. "He's very helpful with the students, and everybody is really just in shock about it all."
As the students and family deal with the shocking news, they're still healing from another tragedy. Two girls who attended the school were killed in a car crash just two weeks ago.
"It was really traumatic," said Tab Willis, the mother of four sons who attend the school. "I know it's still heartbreaking, but with that, there's been nothing but positive support here, and we feel like giving that back."
Here's the rest of the school's statement, issued Saturday night:
?Our concern right now is for those affected by this situation,? RPA Board President Patrick MacKelvie said. ?We want to assure our students, parents, and community that we take these allegations seriously.?
Bremont has served as the Director of RPA since the school opened in the Fall of 2009. Previous to his current role, Bremont served as an assistant principal at Redmond High School.
?I am confident in the ability of our staff to help our students and families through this troubling time,? MacKelvie said. ?We remain committed to ensuring the growth and well-being of all our students. The safety of our students is paramount.?
RPA will operate on a regular schedule Tuesday. The school intends to offer counseling services to staff and students in need.
Redmond School District Superintendent Shay Mikalson released the following statement:
The Redmond School District's understanding is there have been allegations that a crime has been committed. The allegations were immediately reported to the Redmond Police Department. Any investigation into those allegations is being completed by the Redmond Police Department, as the Redmond School District is obligated to allow the police to complete and conduct their investigation.
While Michael Bremont is not a Redmond School District employee, we take all issues that may affect students in the area very seriously as we have a working relationship with the charter school as it serves students not only from the Redmond School District but additionally students from across the region.