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Teacher's aide faces misdemeanor charge for allegedly bringing gun to Portland school

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Teacher's aide faces misdemeanor charge for allegedly bringing gun to Portland school

PORTLAND — The Cumberland County district attorney's office on Monday charged a former teacher's aide with a misdemeanor for allegedly bringing a firearm to Riverton Elementary School.

Beth Bergeron, 49, of Harrison, is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday morning, Dec. 8, in Maine District Court on a charge of possession of a firearm on public school property, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Police said Bergeron inadvertently brought a handgun to the school, which also has a community center, at 1600 Forest Ave., on Nov. 18.

After the handgun was seen in an open gym bag by students in the school cafeteria and reported to teachers, Bergeron, who police said is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, removed the weapon from the school and placed it in her vehicle.

School officials placed Bergeron on administrative leave while the incident was under investigation.

Police Department Lt. Ted Ross said police were told the gun was not loaded when it was brought into the school, but were not able to confirm that information before turning over the case to the district attorney.

Bergeron, who worked in the School Department for five years, resigned last Friday. For three years before becoming an aide in 2007, she worked occasionally as a substitute teacher, according to Superintendent James C. Morse Sr. 

Morse said the School Department is conducting its own investigation into the incident.

The district attorney, meanwhile, has not announced whether charges will be filed against a former Portland High School custodian who was accused of assaulting a student last month.

Ross said the former custodian has two sons attending the high school. His younger son had apparently been the subject of teasing from a group of girls and his older son was sticking up for his younger brother.

The older brother reportedly got into a heated argument with another student who was sticking up for the girls. Ross said the school resource officer noticed the custodian's son clenching his fist and attempted to calm him down.

That's when the custodian, who was subsequently fired, allegedly grabbed the other student by the throat with one hand and pinned him against the lockers with his opposite forearm, Ross said.

The victim's parents originally declined to file charges, but later changed their minds. The case is still pending a review by the district attorney.

"It's still pending review," spokeswoman Tamara Getchell said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net

This story has been updated to include new information.