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Teacher arrested for threatening principal

Also faces charges of defamation of character

June 30, 2010
LITTLETON—A teacher at Lakeway Elementary School is being charged with defamation of character for allegedly sending a letter to staff and their families about alleged misconduct.

Kimberly Marchessault, 40, of Sugar Hill, was arrested June 21 on a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal defamation of character and a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal threatening/intimidation.

According to Littleton District Court records, the criminal defamation charge stems from letters police alleged were sent about Lakeway Principal Rick Bidgood. The letters alleged Bidgood and several teachers were drunk and acting inappropriately while out in public during a trip to Concord for a staff training seminar.

The letters were sent to all 10 teachers who attended the seminar. Marchessault also allegedly received one.

Bidgood's wife, Joni Bidgood, and Jeff Howard, the husband of one of the teachers, also received copies of the letter, which were received between May 14 and May 26.

The letter alleged Bidgood and "certain female staff members were observed 'engaging in public intoxication and inappropriate behaviors that would be embarrassing...'"

After a training session in Concord, which took place April 14-15, Bidgood and most of the staff went to the Common Man Restaurant for cocktails and appetizers and then on to Margarita's Restaurant for dinner, followed by drinks and karaoke at a Chinese restaurant.

In the police affidavit, Bidgood said he did not see any inappropriate behavior. Police questioned Melissa Mann, a kindergarten teacher, who said that while she was uncomfortable with the others drinking alcohol near her because of her religious beliefs, she did not observe any inappropriate behavior. She did say when questioned that she believed Bidgood, as an administrator, should not have interacted with his subordinates the way he did.

Littleton Police Department Detective Michelle Soares conducted the interviews of the teachers and Bidgood. In her affidavit she said Marchesseault entered the interview "with a defensive attitude none of the other teachers expressed when I spoke with them."

The charge of criminal threatening comes from a letter sent to Bidgood at the school. The letter, written in purple ink and in a style of writing meant to mimic a child's handwriting (including a misspelling of Bidgood's name as Biggood) said, "We are coming into the school to hurt you bad and all your staff."

Though the writing was disguised, police matched the writing to that of Marchesseault.

Police obtained a search warrant and searched Marchesseault's house in Sugar Hill, searching for computers, printers, photocopiers, and specific styles of stamps, envelopes, labels and pens that write in purple.

Soares tested Marchesseault's photocopier, using it to make a copy of a clean copy of the letter sent to the teachers. The copy was identical, she wrote, including fading on the left hand side indicating the ink cartridge was low on ink.

Envelopes and stationery found were similar to those used also, Soares wrote.

Marchesseault was released on $2,000 bail with the provision she not go near Lakeway or any of the staff.

Through her attorney, Mark Sisti, of Chischester, she filed a motion objecting to the condition she not go near the school as she works there and must go in the building.

As of Monday afternoon the court had not ruled on the motion.

No one from the school system would comment on the matter. School Board Chairman Art Tighe said the issue was a personnel matter and referred all questions to Superintendent Tommy Stephens.

Stephens could not be reached Monday as he was out of town at a conference.

When reached Monday Bidgood said the issue was a legal matter and he had been advised not to comment. He could not comment whether or not Marchesseault had been placed on administrative leave.

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