Former Malletts Bay fire chief David Scibek pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor simple assault in Vermont Superior Court last Thursday, the charge stemming from accusations he injured a student in a Burlington Technical Center classroom last November.
The 52-year-old Colchester resident is a criminal justice teacher at BTC now placed on paid administrative leave. He formerly worked as a Burlington police officer. The assault charge carries a maximum one-year prison sentence and $1,000 fine if convicted.
A 16-year-old BTC student, identified in court documents as Juvenile M.B., said Scibek told her to perform 20 push-ups after she threw a gum wrapper during their Nov. 29 class, according to a sworn affidavit written by Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Tara Thomas.
The girl refused, saying she had just eaten and her shirt was low cut and would expose her cleavage. She said Scibek became irritated, “took his fingers and dug them into her neck” as he tried to push her to the floor, Thomas wrote.
The girl said she then fell to the floor and hit her back on a computer cabinet door, causing pain, according to the court documents.
Juvenile M.B. said Scibek followed her into the hallway as she gathered her things and attempted to leave the classroom, still instructing her to do the 20 push-ups. Another student in the class allegedly began recording the incident on her phone until she said Scibek told her to stop -— using profanity — Thomas wrote.
Juvenile M.B. said she was laughing and smiling as she walked into the hallway because she was embarrassed and “didn’t want the other students to see that she was ‘actually terrified,’” the affidavit said.
She later called her mother about the incident, and they went to the University of Vermont Medical Center. There, Burlington Police Lt. Michael Warren obtained a photo of a bruise under the girl’s left ear, according to the affidavit.
The officers viewed hallway security footage showing Juvenile M.B. and Scibek talking in the hallway. A second teacher, identified as Joan Siegel approached, Thomas wrote.
Siegel said she heard Scibek and the student having a conversation about push-ups and told him, “nothing physical, no push-ups or else he would be in front of the school board.”
Scibek said he understood, but still required the girl to perform the exercise. The security footage shows the pair walking back into the classroom afterward, according to the court documents.
Interviewed by police on December 14, Scibek admitted to telling the girl to do the push-ups but said when she refused, he approached her and “took advantage of a situation” to introduce the mastoid process, or pressure point, technique.
“He said he cuffed the left side of her head and used her right hand in an attempt to locate the pressure point; however, due to Juvenile M.B.’s hair, he was unable to find the point,” Thomas wrote.
Scibek said he felt the girl’s ear, heard her squeal and saw her slip out of her chair onto the floor, according to the affidavit. He said she reacted like that to get out of doing the push-ups.
“He told her that there were consequences and that she had a choice to do the push-ups in the hallway or in the classroom and she chose to do them in the hallway,” Thomas wrote.
Scibek said he thought Siegel, his fellow teacher, didn’t “have all the information and how he runs his program.” He told investigators he has long implemented a 20 push-up punishment for throwing things in class but had yet to enforce the rule this school year.
The girl told police she felt Scibek was a good instructor and respected him in the days before the incident in class, Thomas wrote.
Several classmates were interviewed by police. Many said they had not witnessed any other problematic encounters with Juvenile M.B. and Scibek. One student, identified as Juvenile S.M. said he “didn’t like how Scibek was forcing Juvenile M.B. to do push-ups,” but didn’t consider the incident violent, documents said.
Judge Nancy Waples released Scibek on his own recognizance. He is next scheduled to appear in court on February 28.