WINCHESTER — A Handley High School teacher accused of inappropriately touching a female student on two occasions was indicted by a Winchester Circuit Court grand jury on Tuesday for indecent liberties with a child, which is a felony, and misdemeanor assault and battery, according to a City of Winchester press release.
Randall Gasper, 60, had been listed as a medical laboratory instructor on Handley’s website, but references to him have been removed.
A Circuit Court website said an arrest warrant has been issued for Gasper for failure to appear in court and listed him as a fugitive.
The girl said she was groped twice by Gasper between Aug. 1 and Nov. 30, according to the indictments. The alleged incidents occurred during the school day.
Winchester Police Department spokeswoman Lt. Amanda R. Behan said city police were alerted about the allegations on Dec. 6. She said the girl told an unidentified person, who notified the Department of Social Services, who then contacted police.
Detective Mala Bansal, who handles child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault cases, subsequently conducted an investigation.
With Bansal listening, Behan said a staff member of the Child Safe Center — a group that works with child abuse victims — conducted a “forensic interview” with the girl. Kelly A. Bober, center executive director, wouldn’t comment on the case, but speaking generally, Bober said forensic interviews involve age appropriate, open-ended questions done by staff members who have specialized training in working with children. Besides providing police with evidence, the recorded interviews are designed to be done in a sensitive, supportive manner.
“It just gives them a level of privacy, protection and support that they really need,” said Bober, who has conducted some 3,000 forensic interviews. “The child is really encouraged to give as much narrative as they’re able to do with the interviewer asking followup questions as needed.”
According to Behan, Bansal conducted multiple interviews during the investigation, including speaking with students, the girl’s mother and Gasper. Gasper, of the 200 block of Clearview Road in Luray, was hired in 2015 and earns $65,594 annually, according to an email from V. Douglas Joyner, Winchester Public Schools human resources director.
Handley’s website said Gasper has 30 years in the clinical laboratory field, is an Air Force veteran and worked for 10 years at Valley Health, the six-hospital chain that includes Winchester Medical Center. At Handley, Gasper worked with students taking Career and Technical Education classes. The CTE program includes medical science education.
A 2016 article by The Winchester Star on the program included how Gasper supervised students drawing and banking blood. One student spoke about drawing blood from Gasper as part of a classroom exercise.
Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said in an email that Gasper was relieved of his duties pending the outcome of the case. However, Van Heukelum didn’t say if Gasper is on paid leave. He also didn’t say whether the student continues to attend Handley or if she has been offered counseling services. A school division news release said the allegations are being taken seriously and staff are held to high standards of conduct.
“All staff members are expected to maintain a professional, moral and ethical relationship in their conduct with students and to serve as role models for students at all times — inside and outside of the school day,” the release said. “We will continue to uphold and enforce these expectations to ensure that our students learn in a safe and supportive environment.”