Great Barrington Police Officer Killed in Friday Morning Crash
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — An off-duty Great Barrington police officer died early Friday morning after his pickup truck hit a tree on Prospect Hill Road in Stockbridge.
Stockbridge Police Chief Darrell Fennelly said 25-year-old Ryan A. Storti of Muddy Brook Circle was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which was reported shortly after 2 a.m. According to a statement from the Great Barrington Police Department, Storti was alone and on his way home when he lost control of his truck and struck a tree on the side of the road.
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Stockbridge Police Department with assistance from the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.
"Officer Storti was a wonderful young man and police officer," Great Barrington Police Chief William Walsh said in a statement. "He was everything we wanted in a police officer and was part of our future. We're all struggling right now as we also try to support Ryan's family. Please keep them all in your thoughts."
Storti, a 2008 graduate of Monument Mountain Regional High School, had been a reserve officer in Great Barrington until being appointed to a permanent position in 2015. He graduated from Berkshire Community College and from the Western Massachusetts Police Academy in Springfield.
"Officer Storti was a rising star for our police department. I am devastated to learn of his sudden death," Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin said in a statement. "This is a tragedy and an enormous loss for the Police, our Town and the entire community. Our hearts go out to Ryan's family and all who loved him and worked with him every day in public service. He will forever be in our thoughts and prayers."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
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Jury Finds Former School Counselor Not Guilty of Rape
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A jury has acquitted a former school counselor of rape and indecent assault charges.
Scott M. Muir, 38, of Stockbridge was found not guilty after 2 1/2 hours of deliberation in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday of five counts of rape of a child with force and 14 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14.
The charges date back to when he was a school counselor at the Stockbridge Plain School between 2003 and 2006. Five girls, between the ages of 8 and 10, claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Muir.
Muir was charged with the crimes in April of 2012. At the time of the charges, he held municipal jobs including Stockbridge's emergency management director and facilities manager, and was a member of the Board of Health and an emergency medical technician with the Lee Volunteer Ambulance Service.
Muir pleaded not guilty to all counts. In the trial that began last week, several of the alleged victims, now in their late teens, testified that Muir had fondled them. However, an internal investigation could substantiate the complaints made at the time.
The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.
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Ex-School Counselor Pleads Not-Guilty To Rape Charges
Scott M. Muir, 36, of Church Street, Stockbridge, was arraigned before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday afternoon. He was arraigned in Southern Berkshire District Court last month.
Muir is alleged to have assaulted three different children between 2003 and 2005 while working as a student center support coordinator at the former Stockbridge Plain School. The allegations relate to three girls under the age of 14 at the time, including two who lodged complaints about Muir in 2004.
Muir had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of rape of a child with force and three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child child under 14 in connection with incidents that occurred between 2003 and 2005 and involved a girl who is now 16 years of age.
He also had not-guilty pleas entered on three counts of indecent assault and battery on a child child under 14 and one count of attempt to commit a crime, to wit: indecent assault and battery on a child child under 14. The incidents are alleged to have occurred in 2003 and 2004 and involved a girl who is now 18.
Muir also pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape of a child with force and four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child child under 14 in connection with incidents that allegedly occurred in 2003 and 2004 and involved a girl who is now 17 years of age.
All the incidents are alleged to have occurred at Stockbridge Plain School. The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.
The Berkshire Eagle has reported that the Berkshire Hills Regional School District has refused to release personnel records based on the 2004 allegations to the press, although school officials told the newspaper the district is cooperating with law enforcement. The allegations were forwarded to state authorities but no charges were filed at the time; the third girl who came forward prompted a re-examination of the evidence.
Muir is a town employee, working as facilities manager and emergency management director, as well as being involved in the Fire Department and the Lee Volunteer Ambulance Service. The Eagle reports that Muir has been suspended from his town posts with pay.
Judge Ford released Muir on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail on the condition he have no contact with the alleged victims or their families and not be in a caretaking role with children under 16.
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Ex-Stockbridge Counselor Accused of Rape
Scott Muir, 36, was arranged Thursday in Southern Berkshire District Court on multiple sexual assault charges involving three former pupils and the district attorney's office is asking for any other victims to come forward.
Muir is accused of raping the children on multiple occasions while he worked as an adjustment counselor at the former Stockbridge Plain School, which closed in 2008.
He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on:
• Three counts of rape of a child with force, two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 in connection with incidents that occurred between 2003 and 2005 and involved a girl who is now 16.
• Two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 and one count of attempt to commit indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14 in connection with incidents that occurred between 2003 and 2004 with a girl who is now 18.
• Two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child and a single count of rape of a child in connection with incidents between 2003 and 2004 with a girl who is now 17.
All of the incidents allegedly occurred at the school while he was employed there.
Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega released him on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail on the condition he have no contact with the alleged victims or their families and have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16. He is scheduled to return to court for a pre-trial conference on May 3.
District Attorney David Capeless said there may be other victims and urged them to "come forward."
"We believe that there may be other victims who will come forward, and we urge anyone with information about Mr. Muir's activities at the Plain School to contact the Berkshire Detective Unit of the state police at 413-499-1112," he said in a statement.
Muir is currently Stockbridge's emergency management director and facilities manager. He is also listed as a member of the Board of Health and a member of the Lee Volunteer Ambulance Service.
The investigation was conducted by the state police.
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Stockbridge Home Damaged by Fire
A fire on Clark Road destroyed the enclosed sunroom of a residential home.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — A fire that destroyed the back of a Clark Road home on Tuesday afternoon was contained with the aide of firefighters from four departments.
Stockbridge Fire Chief Ernest "Chuck" Cardillo said the blaze at the home was reported by a neighbor at around 3:15 p.m. Fortunately, he said, no one was in the house when the fire broke out.
"The daughter had just gotten dropped off from school and she didn't even go into the house because she saw the fire," Cardello said. "I think the neighbor saw it at the same time because that's when we got the call. We were able to contain the fire within 20 or 30 minutes."
Although the cause has not been determined, Cardello said it began on the enclosed back porch, or sunroom, and spread upwards into the attic. A pellet stove was in the room but was not being used.
"Actually the homeowner told us that he had just finished building the porch not too long ago," he said. "There's a significant amount of damage but fortunately the house wasn't totaled. It can be rebuilt and no one was hurt."
Trucks from Lee, Lenox and Great Barrington were called in to assist and the Lee Ambulance was also called in to stay on standby.
Cardello said the muddy road, which is located in a swampy area, did present problems for fire trucks that had to back out upon leaving the scene.
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