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Former English teacher indicted on sexual assault charges

A former Goffstown English teacher has been accused of having sex with his 16-year-old student at a Concord hotel room last year over Christmas vacation.

Darren Hartung, 48, of 38 Kimball St. in Concord was indicted last month by a Merrimack County grand jury on two counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault, two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one misdemeanor count of interference with custody. According to the indictments, he took the teen from her workplace in Bow to an undisclosed hotel in Concord and engaged in sexual acts with her.

Hartung faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the assault counts.

Brian Balke, interim superintendent of School Administrative Unit 19, said Hartung resigned Jan. 9, a day after claims against him were brought to the school’s attention. Balke declined to elaborate, citing personnel matters, but he said the school did launch an internal investigation and relayed information to the Goffstown Police Department and state Department of Education. The investigation was then transferred to the Concord police.

“We were deeply concerned regarding the allegations,” Balke said.

Hartung began teaching at Goffstown High School in September 2003 and was a “well-thought-of teacher,” Balke said. He coached cross country from 2005 until 2012, and boys’ track between 2006 and 2011. Last year, he helped chaperone 16 students on a trip to Florida to build homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Balke said the school has had no contact with Hartung since he resigned. A message left for Hartung yesterday was not returned.

Hartung has pleaded not guilty to the felony charges, according to a court filing. He has never been arrested for the offenses and is free on $25,000 personal recognizance bail.

Under the conditions of his bail, Hartung is barred from contacting the victim and her family, possessing dangerous weapons, traveling outside the state or having any unsupervised contact with children under 18, other than his own, according to the filing. It’s unclear how many children he has.

The felony charges could prove difficult to prosecute, given that the age of consent in New Hampshire is 16. County attorneys will have to show that Hartung used his authority as the teen’s teacher to coerce her into engaging in sexual acts.

Hartung does not appear to have any previous sexual assault convictions. His case is scheduled for trial in August of next year.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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