Former principal in court for arraignment

Former Webster Elementary Principal Sarah Lynch is led into Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on Monday for her arraignment on charges that she faked a report of being assaulted by a daytime burglar at her home.

MANCHESTER — Fired Webster School principal Sarah Lynch walked out of a Manchester courtroom Monday after a judge rejected arguments from a prosecutor that she should be kept in jail because she may harm herself.

Lynch was arrested Friday and charged with concocting a story about being assaulted by an intruder in her North End home on Jan. 23. She spent the weekend at Valley Street jail, but was released on the requirement she undergo a mental health evaluation.

She has pleaded innocent to the charges, said her lawyer, Anthony Sculimbrene.

Former principal in court for arraignment

Former Webster Elementary Principal Sarah Lynch appears at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on Monday. Her attorney, Anthony Sculimbrene, is at right.

“The idea this is open and shut — by their own (police) affidavit, it’s hardly there,” Sculimbrene said in court.

In the seven-page affidavit, filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court, Manchester police detail their initial suspicions when Lynch reported she had been attacked by a daytime intruder who fought with her and at one point tried to strangle her with a USB cord.

Confronted with inconsistencies between her statements and evidence, Lynch said she was stressed, she was on medication, that her wife hated her and she was jobless, police recounted. 

“Sarah said that she didn’t want to be seen as crazy and that what she did was a mistake. She said that it was a huge mistake,” wrote Manchester police detective Scott Ardita.

The affidavit spells out many of the problems with Lynch’s initial report to police about the attack:

Although Lynch suggested the intruder used a rock to break the glass on the front door, police observed damage on the door and window trim more consistent with a baseball bat. They found an aluminum bat in her office.

Lynch’s initial description of the intruder included eye color, condition of teeth, jewelry, body hair and footwear. Such detail is not consistent with victim accounts of stranger assaults.

No blood was located at the scene, the location of the broken glass didn’t fit Lynch’s claims that the front door was closed at the time, and the condition of the overturned toys and children’s furniture did not fit the story of two adults fiercely fighting.

Lynch was calm and not rushed in her call to 911. “She was not out of breath, nor had a sense of urgency. She was polite, friendly, non-emotional, completely opposite to other victims I have spoken to,” Ardita wrote.

Neighbor video surveillance systems, which had a view of the street and front stairs at Lynch’s house at 102 North Adams St., showed no intruder.

At another point, Lynch worried what impact a potential arrest would have on the lawsuit she filed against the Manchester School District. She told police that the lawsuit was “really real,” which led police to think the report of an intruder was not.

Lynch entered the courtroom wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt. She initially looked forlorn, but cheered up at the sight of her parents, wife and other relatives.

Former principal in court for arraignment

Family members look on during Sarah Lynch’s arraignment in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

During an arraignment, Sculimbrene and Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Patrice Casian differed over whether Lynch should be released from jail.

Casian said Lynch had scored high on a quick test that Hampstead police gave her when they arrested her Friday at her parents’ house.

But Sculimbrene disputed any potential for suicide and noted Lynch has a house in Manchester and a supportive family. Police based their suicide score on Lynch telling them that the day was the worst of her life, Sculimbrene said.

A judge ordered Lynch released on her own recognizance, but said she must schedule a mental health examination within 72 hours.

Lynch was removed from her job at the start of the school year and eventually fired by the Manchester school board. She has claimed she was fired for raising issues about problems at Webster School, most dealing with a wing devoted to children with emotional and behavioral disorders.

In a lengthy response, the school district denied all the charges and claimed that there were financial problems and personnel disputes on her watch.