Saturday, 2:15 PM
South Shore teacher accused of statutory rape
By John R. Ellement and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
BROCKTON -- Police described an Abington elementary school teacher today as an obsessive predator who allegedly seduced a 13-year-old boy and carried on a sexual relationship that lasted for 18 months.
(AP Photo/ Gatehouse News Service)
Christine A. McCallum, 29, had become like a surrogate mother to the teen, who was being raised by a single father, prosecutors said today. That relationship allegedly progressed to snuggling and kissing after McCallum plied the boy with alcohol. Then on Feb. 7, 2006, she allegedly had sex with the teen for the first time, said Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Michael Scott.
The boy, who is now 16, told police that over the next 18 months he and McCallum had intercourse every other day for a total of "approximately 300 times," according to a police report filed today in Brockton District Court. She gave him a cell phone so they could communicate, authorities said, and wrote him a series of letters that while not overtly sexual depicted an obsessive woman in the throes of an intimate relationship with a teenager.
"We truly believe that this person was a predator," said Chief David Majenski of the Abington Police Department, speaking at a press conference. "I would hope there are no other victims, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out."
McCallum has been charged with seven counts of statutory rape stemming from seven alleged sexual encounters that investigators said they were able to document. She appeared in Brockton District Court today with her husband of five years, Scott, at her side and pleaded not guilty to the three counts that allegedly occurred at the teen's home in Abington.
McCallum was released on personal recognizance, outfitted with a GPS monitoring device, and ordered to report this afternoon to Hingham District Court, where she was arraigned on the remaining charges. The other four counts of statutory rape allegedly occurred in Rockland, where McCallum lives.
"These are very disturbing allegations, especially when they involve someone who is in a position of public trust within a school," Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz said after the brief hearing. "I'm concerned about the victim in this case, I'm concerned about a 13-year-old child because that's what you are when you are 13 -- you are a child."
Defense attorney Frederick McDermott disputed the prosecution's facts and said there was no evidence that his client ever had sex with the teen. McCallum had become like a surrogate mother to the boy, McDermott said, and the relationship never progressed past that point.
McCallum holds a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts, her lawyer said. On her Facebook page, the native of Coventry, RI, says she earned her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in 2002. McCallum is a 1997 graduate of Coventry High School, said her Facebook page. Her husband is a 1994 graduate of the same school.
McCallum began working for the Abington School District as a tutor and paraprofessional during the 2006 academic year, according to Abington Schools Superintendent Peter G. Schafer.
McCallum was fired on Thursday from her current position as a fifth grade teacher at Woodsdale Elementary School, according to Schafer, who would not discuss the details. The allegations are "of great concern and we will be fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation," Schafer said in a telephone interview. "We do everything humanly possible to create the safest environment for the children."
McCallum met the alleged victim at the Abington Public Library when she began tutoring his younger brother through the school district, prosecutors said today. The alleged victim was never one of McCallum's students.
In the letters that McCallum allegedly wrote to the victim, she pledged her love for him and urged him to keep their relationship secret, according to Assistant Plymouth District Attorney Michael Scott, who read excepts aloud today at her arraignment.
"There's no question I will choose you over this job," McCallum wrote of her teaching position. "That's a very easy decision."
In a message sent to the boy from her MySpace page, McCallum wrote: "It's hard to be in love with you and set boundaries for you. It's hard to kiss you and tell you no."
The boy's father discovered the letters in 2006 and was disturbed but did not think that McCallum and her son had a sexual relationship, according to Chief John Llewellyn of the Rockland Police Department.
"He couldn't comprehend that this person was a predator," Llewellyn said.
The defense, however, disputed that the letters included any evidence of a sexual relationship between McCallum and the boy. McDermott said the letters showed only that she had served as a surrogate mother, a relationship that ended in July 2007. McCallum caught the boy stealing liquor from her home, McDermott said, and when she tried to impose boundaries, they stopped talking.
Recently one of the teen's friends told his mother about the alleged sexual relationship. That mother told the teen's father, who went to police. McCallum was arrested on Thursday.
Edwin Toomey, 12, attended the Center Elementary School in Abington when McCallum worked there.
"I thought she was awesome" Tooney said, who was interviewed with his father's permission. "She was cool, she wasn't like other teachers ... she was kind of, like, young ... she was very pretty."
His father, Robert Toomey, said he also knew McCallum through the school. "She was professional. She had a solid reputation as far as I'm concerned," Robert Toomey said.