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Newfound guidance counselor resigns after seeking leniency for Exeter peer who molested teen

Union Leader Correspondents

August 08. 2018 10:24PM
Kristie Torbick addresses the Rockingham County Superior Court earlier this month at her sentencing hearing for sexual assault. She pleaded guilty to assaulting a student while a guidance counselor at Exeter High School. (JASON SCHREIBER/CORRESPONDENT)

BRISTOL — A Newfound Regional High School guidance counselor has resigned after she and other educators came under fire for expressing support for a former counselor who sexually assaulted a student.

The school board accepted Shelly Philbrick’s resignation at a board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Stacy Buckley said Wednesday.

The resignation came a month after Philbrick spoke as a character witness at a sentencing hearing for former Exeter High School counselor Kristie Torbick, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student in 2016 and 2017.

Philbrick was one of nearly two dozen people who attended the hearing on Torbick’s behalf.

Torbick worked at Newfound before taking a job as a counselor at Bedford High School and later at Exeter High School.

Philbrick, who also was one of 23 educators and others who wrote letters supporting Torbick, praised Torbick’s work with students and asked Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Andrew Schulman to be lenient when he sentenced Torbick.

Prosecutors requested a five- to 10-year prison sentence, but Schulman gave her 2½ to five years.

Philbrick has worked for the district for the past 19 years; her salary for the last school year was $60,793. Buckley said the district will immediately begin efforts to find a replacement. School is scheduled to start on Aug. 29.

Philbrick is one of several people who faced criticism amid outrage over the support for Torbick.

The dean of student services and two school counselors from Bedford High School also came under fire, along with professors at Plymouth State University.

Bedford Superintendent Chip McGee resigned over the controversy.

Meanwhile, Alexandria police have coordinated with Voices Against Violence to hold a forum for the community and parents on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m., in the Alexandria Town Hall.

The forum will allow the public to discuss concerns raised by the support of Torbick from Philbrick and others.

Alexandria Police Chief Donald Sullivan has been critical of the educators and others who supported Torbick and helped organize the forum, which will be an opportunity for people to learn about resources available to address sexual violence.

“We want to show people that there are resources out there for victims and we will support the victims. I think the community is hurting and they need some sort of an outlet,” Sullivan said.

Education Alexandria Bristol Exeter

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