On Thursday, a junior varsity baseball coach at Taconic High School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on multiple charges related to sexual misconduct with students at the school. WAMC spoke with Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington about the case, and why she thinks more allegations against Scott Nimons could emerge. Neither the school nor the superintendent immediately responded to request for comment.
HARRINGTON: The rules of professional responsibility do limit what I can say ethically in the press about cases that are pending. But what I can tell you is that this individual was arraigned yesterday in Central Berkshire District Court on four different counts that relate to his treatment of young women on the Taconic baseball team. And our concern right now, and one of the primary reasons why I'm talking to you, is that there could potentially be other victims and we very much would like for any other people in our community who have been victimized by Mr. Nimons to contact the Pittsfield Police Department.
WAMC: Three separate charges are brought against Mr. Nimons, the first being two counts of "obscene matter to minors." What does that charge indicate?
It indicates that Mr. Nimons was really using electronic devices and social media in his conduct toward these young people, which is why my office really sought and was successful in obtaining a comprehensive set of release conditions, which included limiting the defendant's use of social media and electronics. So, that is a tool that predators often use in preying on young victims in our community.
The second distinct charge is "child and nude, lascivious pose or exhibit." What does that charge indicate?
Well, that again has to do with the use of electronic media. And a lot of these charges relate to the way Mr. Nimons used social media to prey on his victims.
The third distinct charge is a count of "trafficking of person under 18. for sexual servitude," certainly the most dramatic of the charges. What does that mean?
That is somebody who attempts to obtain sexual- I don't know, things of a sexual nature in exchange for something. And so this case is on track for indictment in Superior Court. These are very serious charges. And I will tell you that this case is really indicative of a culture that we have here in our community, that young people and young women in particular just live in every day, and there's a culture of sexual violence towards them. And in the District Attorney's office, we see a lot of this kind of treatment towards young women. Oftentimes, it's peer to peer. So the fact that we have somebody who was an adult in a trusted position that is doing this is very, very, very, very concerning and what we really want to make sure is that young people in our community who are brave enough to come forward know that there are adults that will stand behind them and that we take this kind of behavior seriously. It is a crime and we will prosecute it aggressively.
UPDATE: Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jake McCandless offered the following statement to WAMC.
"The Pittsfield Public Schools are aware of the allegations of misconduct associated with an adult member of the Pittsfield community with ties to local youth and high school athletics.
The adult individual suspected of being involved in the alleged misconduct, has never been a full-time employee of the Pittsfield Public Schools.
The alleged incidents of misconduct did not take place on school grounds, did not involve student-athletes on teams that were under the supervision of the individual suspected of the alleged misconduct, and did not occur during a time in which the individual was employed by the Pittsfield Public Schools.
The Pittsfield Public School District’s top priority is student safety. In accordance with legal and moral responsibilities, the Pittsfield Public Schools take immediate action, and acts accordingly, when investigating any reports of misconduct tied to the well-being of youth.
We remain committed to taking any and all steps necessary to ensure the ongoing safety and security of every child in our community, both in school buildings and at home.
With the well-being, confidentiality, and privacy of all parties involved also being a significant priority, the Pittsfield Public Schools will not comment further on the circumstances.
In order to protect the privacy of all, the well-being of our students, and the integrity of the investigation, no further details will be made available by the Pittsfield Public Schools."
This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the district, in its statement, says the alleged misconduct did not include members of the team under Nimons' supervision.