Michael Botsford, a former teacher and coach at Frenchtown High School, pleaded not guilty to endangering the welfare of children on Feb. 18 after he was found to be exchanging around 14,000 messages with his 15-year-old student.
Although Botsford admitted to a Missoula police detective to being in love with the student, he denied having sexual intentions with her, according to the affidavit. In one message to the minor, Botsford sent her a photo captioned, “Intimacy is not just about sex,” clearly proving his intentions with the student were non-sexual, according to the affidavit.
But in another message released in the affidavit, Botsford said, “I would pin you up against the wall with hands above your head. I would be pressed against you and give you a soft kiss on your cheek and neck and whisper in your ear that I caught you.”
The messages are conflicting.
Frenchtown School District Superintendent Randy Cline said because Botsford’s case is a “pending legal matter,” the school district is not taking questions at this time.
The school district was notified in April 2015 that Botsford was involved in a “romantic relationship” with one of his students after her parents discovered the messages and informed the police, according to a statement released by the school district.
Botsford, who has a teenage daughter attending school with the victim, chose to resign before the school district was able to fire him, according to the statement.
The student was interviewed at First Step Resource Center, a sexual assault clinic, and she said Botsford hugged and kissed her on the forehead and cheek, according to the affidavit.
All of these interactions, including her sitting on his lap briefly, occurred on a couch in Botsford’s classroom.
In a Facebook message to the student, the affidavit reports Botsford saying “he may have a physical reaction if she sat on his lap again because he is a guy, a clear reference to an erection.”
A handful of former Frenchtown students, several of whom now attend the University of Montana, declined to comment on the allegations against Botsford.
At his Feb. 18 hearing, Botsford was court ordered to have no contact with teenagers, other than his daughter, to stay off school property, unless he has to drop his daughter off, to stay in Montana, except while touring colleges with his daughter, and to have no contact with the victim and to stay off social media.
Botsford’s attorney objected to the social media restriction and said Facebook is a public domain her client has a right to use.
The state argued that Facebook is how the crime began and said Botsford first privately messaged this student via the social network, as well as other students in the past.
Botsford was reportedly fired from another high school after having an inappropriate relationship with a student, according to the affidavit.
According to the Missoulian, Botsford taught in Conrad and Great Falls before becoming an English teacher, as well as the boys’ track and basketball coach, at Frenchtown High School.
The high schools in Conrad and Great Falls declined to say whether or not Botsford was a past employee of theirs.
Botsford’s trial is scheduled for April 20 at 10 a.m. in Missoula Justice Court.