MEDFORD ― Former Everett schools superintendent Frederick F. Foresteire was convicted by a Malden District Court jury Thursday of indecent assault and battery for touching a payroll clerk who worked for him on the buttocks.
Looking bewildered, the 79-year-old man was placed in handcuffs after the verdict was announced, to serve 90 days of an 18-month sentence in a county jail. He must also register as a sex offender.
Foresteire’s wife of 53 years wept on a nearby court bench.
Judge Emily A. Karstetter also prohibited Foresteire from attending “any Everett Public School event or sponsored activity.”
Foresteire, a lifelong resident of the city, was the superintendent from 1989 until his retirement in December 2018.
“The defendant in this case used his position of power to victimize one of his employees, assaulting her and repeatedly making her feel unsafe, uncomfortable and powerless at her place of employment,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan said in a statement. “Today’s verdict reflects our commitment to protecting this victim and to holding the defendant accountable for his actions.”
Two other women who worked for Foresteire have also brought criminal charges against him, saying he cornered and groped them and subjected them to humiliating treatment. Foresteire faces two more trials for each of those cases, and Karstetter scheduled the next trial for Wednesday.
Thursday’s verdict came after a three-day trial in which the distressed woman told jurors that Foresteire regularly made unwanted comments and advances toward her, including calling her “Miss Argentina” during the nearly two years she worked at Everett Public Schools.
She described trying to avoid Foresteire’s advances in the school administration building as a game of cat and mouse.
The six-person jury — three men and three women — delivered a split verdict, deciding not to convict Foresteire on allegations that Foresteire twice pulled the woman’s shirt and bra strap off her shoulder, exposed her breast, and one of the times put his mouth on her breast.
Foresteire was found guilty on two felony counts of indecent assault and battery for touching the woman’s buttocks. He was acquitted of a third charge of assault and battery as well as two misdemeanor counts of assault and battery for the alleged incidents involving the woman’s breasts.
During the nearly two years she worked at Everett Public Schools, Foresteire, her boss, would incessantly put his hand around her waist and then let it creep down to her buttocks, making the payroll clerk uncomfortable and nervous, according to the woman’s trial testimony on Monday.
“Even if there were people around, and if no one could see, his hand would make it to my butt, always,” the woman told jurors earlier this week. “If I was by myself, it would be a smack on the butt, or a squeeze on the butt, whatever he felt like doing that day.”
On Wednesday, Foresteire took the stand and admitted to calling the woman “Miss Argentina,” though he vehemently denied touching her inappropriately.
As for the nickname, “she liked it,” Foresteire told jurors. “She brought it on herself.”
Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Carrie Spiros told jurors in her closing arguments in the case Wednesday that, “this defendant was a powerful man who seemed to have an obsession with [the victim]. She essentially felt powerless in this situation.”
The woman’s name is being withheld by the Globe because she is a victim of assault. She worked for Everett Public Schools from November 2016 until June 2018.
Foresteire’s lawyer Gerard Malone told jurors in his closing argument that the woman made up a “convoluted story,” changed it as she went along, and failed to immediately report any wrongdoing to authorities.
“He did not do these things, and he told you he did not do these things,” Malone said in his closing arguments. “He’s always denied it, he continues to deny it.”
After the verdict was read, Malone requested “a reasonable period of probation.”
“He’s in his 80th year of life, and it was a split verdict,” Malone said.
Malone acknowledged that Foresteire had been convicted of a “serious criminal offense” but argued that when it came to “the most outrageous of the criminal offenses, he was found not guilty.”
Spiros, the prosecutor, called for the jail sentence, however, saying Foresteire took advantage of his authority.
“I would suggest they came back and found the defendant guilty of a serious felony,” Spiros said. “This defendant abused his power as the former superintendent of Everett Public Schools.”