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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

School says Merrimack teacher out before arrest

By DEREK EDRY
Staff Writer

MERRIMACK – The former Merrimack High School teacher accused of soliciting nude photos of one of his 16-year-old students was removed from his classroom last Tuesday and formally resigned Oct. 13, several days before his arrest, according to the town school district.

Just hours after his arrest on Monday, the Merrimack School Board acknowledged the resignation of longtime educator Robert Todd Wiley, with board chairwoman Shannon Barnes saying the move is a standard resignation outside his inability to collect retirement incentives. ...

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MERRIMACK – The former Merrimack High School teacher accused of soliciting nude photos of one of his 16-year-old students was removed from his classroom last Tuesday and formally resigned Oct. 13, several days before his arrest, according to the town school district.

Just hours after his arrest on Monday, the Merrimack School Board acknowledged the resignation of longtime educator Robert Todd Wiley, with board chairwoman Shannon Barnes saying the move is a standard resignation outside his inability to collect retirement incentives.

Police said the 63-year-old Wiley turned himself in Monday morning on a warrant that “stemmed from a thorough investigation” into allegations he solicited naked photos of a 16-year-old female student and “supplied images and videos to the victim of himself manipulating his genitals.”

Wiley submitted a one-sentence letter of resignation last Thursday that stated, “After 37 dedicated years as a teacher of English and philosophy at Merrimack High School, this letter serves as my intent to retire from the Merrimack School District, effective Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.”

Marjorie Chiafery, Merrimack’s superintendent of schools, said the board was relieved that Wiley submitted his resignation and that it “hadn’t been forced upon” them. She said Wiley was removed from the school on Tuesday, Oct. 11, to allow the superintendent to “conduct (her) own investigation” as the police continued their own investigation.

“The situation unfolded on Columbus Day weekend,” Chiafery said by phone Tuesday morning. “(Before then) all I knew about was allegations about inappropriate communication.”

Regarding whether the resignation was a result of the allegations, Chiafery said Wiley was a veteran staff member who had previously discussed retirement. She added that she was surprised, however, to have received his resignation so quickly.

Principal Kenneth Johnson addressed the student body Tuesday morning.

“Honestly, I say to you that, despite my many years of experience, at times things occur for which I have no answer, no explanation,” Johnson said. “To any student, seek out your counselors if you need them, talk to and place faith in your parents, embrace your friends.”

Wiley, who lives at 14 Mayflower Drive in Milford, was booked Monday on one felony count of criminal solicitation to the manufacturing of child abuse images, along with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, which are Class A misdemeanors.

Wiley was later released on $20,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to appear in Merrimack district court for arraignment on Dec. 1.

Police said Monday that members of the department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau launched the investigation roughly two weeks ago after police received information Wiley,” according to a press release.

Detectives learned during the investigation that Wiley had allegedly “been meeting, and conversing with, a (16-year-old female) who was also found to be Wiley’s student,” the press statement said.

Police said detectives determined that Wiley allegedly solicited the naked photos and sent the images of himself “on several occasions.”

Lt. Denise Roy with the Merrimack Police Department said Monday the parents of the alleged victim brought the allegations to police about two weeks ago. The girl is the only victim alleged at this point, but the investigation is still open and active, she said.

“I would never presume that there are no more victims,” Roy said in reference to the continuing investigation.

“We use (incidents such as Wiley’s arrest) as an opportunity to encourage parents to talk with their kids – not necessarily about Mr. Wiley specifically, but in general,” Roy said, referring to kids’ ability to recognize and report inappropriate behavior by adults. “If anyone does have any information on this, we do encourage them to come forward.”

She also urged parents to contact her if they have any questions about “how to talk to your children about sexual abuse” at 424-3774.

More information on discussing, recognizing or reporting child abuse can be found on the state Child Advocacy Center’s website, www.cac-nh.org under the “resources” link.

Derek Edry can be reached at 594-6589, dedry@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_Derek. Staff writer Dean Shalhoup contributed to this report.