Franklin Countys First News

UMF fires faculty member following sexual abuse allegations

Bruce McInnes

FARMINGTON - A part-time faculty member at the University of Maine at Farmington has been fired, after university officials became aware that he was under investigation for allegedly sexually abusing a minor while employed by a New York City school in the 1990s.

Bruce McInnes, who worked in UMF's music department, was placed on administrative leave by UMF on Oct. 4, 2019, after the university became aware of an investigation and related lawsuit in New York, alleging that McInnes sexually abused a minor student.

In a statement released to the UMF campus Tuesday, UMF President Edward Serna said that UMF officials learned on Oct. 2, 2019 that McInnes was under investigation for allegations of sexual abuse of a juvenile student while he was employed as the choirmaster at the Grace Church School in New York. A private school located in downtown Manhattan, the Grace Church School teaches students in grades K through 12, according to its website.

The alleged abuse reportedly occurred between 1992 and 2000, prior to McInnes' employment with UMF in 2006. According to UMF, that investigation is still ongoing.

McInnes was also named in a filing with the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Nov. 20, 2019 against the Grace Church of New York, the Grace Church School and the Episcopal Diocese of New York. In that filing, the plaintiff named McInnes as his abuser.

Serna said that UMF had concluded its review by formally terminating McInnes' contract on Jan. 10 and forbidding his employment throughout the University of Maine System.

"We are not currently aware of any expressions of concern about Mr. McInnes during his employment at UMF or his time in the Farmington region," Serna said in the statement. "Nevertheless, the seriousness of the allegations and the findings of our review required that the University act to address an unacceptable risk."

Serna said that UMF was coordinating with Old South Church, where McInnes was the choir director until October 2019.

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30 Responses »

  1. My first reaction is to be outraged that the President of UMF has seen fit to release this to the press. Why is an alleged incident that happened 30 years ago involving a faculty member who is now 84 years old, and who has served the University superbly and without incident for 14 years thought to need announcement at this date? It seems to me an entirely in-house matter involving mistakes made by the Episcopal Diocese of New York in not informing possible future employers as they should have, so that future employers could make their own informed decisions.

    This speaks very poorly of the judgment of our new President who somehow thought this was useful information for the general public. Instead of dealing openly with procedures to address current allegations made by present students who have alleged that fellow students have abused them, a topic discussed at an open forum in the fall overseen by the Acting Interim President, President Serna has decided instead to release this 30 year old incident which has just come to his notice.

    He owes Dr. McGinness a deep apology.

  2. Joan I agree this seems to be a distraction from what is going on currently. It doesn’t seem relevant to bring something up from October to the news now in January. Perhaps the new President should explain himself as to why this needs to be brought up.

  3. He should have been thoroughly investigated before he was hired. Glad he is no longer associated with UMF. Hopefully there will be a local investigated also.

  4. Bruce has been nothing but a saint to this community and my family. The fact that this needed to be put public quite frankly pisses me off. As it is an accusation and has not been determined as true. My brother has done work for him for many years, my and my mother worked with him personally and love him dearly. Anyone who comments on this saying how UMF should have never hired him clearly doesnt know what they are talking about. Bruce is caring, loving, and the most sweetest man on this planet. This is honestly just UMF trying to make up for them doing a piss poor job with the students WHO WHERE PROVEN GUILTY and allowing them to still be around. This is disgusting UMF. Absolutely disgusting. Bruce I love you, and I am giving you a big hug. Cause you give the best hugs.

  5. I agree. This should have come up when he was first interviewed??

  6. I agree with Cassidy. Those who know Bruce know that he has been an amazing asset to the community. Just because of a "possible" past mistake doesn't make him who he is today, also this is just an allegation. Bruce would do anything for anybody, this was a mistake on UMF's part to publish this news. Shame on them.

  7. I agree that the premise of innocent until proven guilty has eroded, to the point where political leaders talk about someone having to "prove their innocence". Scary and a very slippery slope. However, before people get angry at UMF for making these accusations public, perhaps consider the possibility that someone may have been pressuring or threatening UMF to make them do it. It might have been thought that they needed to make it public before someone else did. Otherwise it could seem that UMF was trying to cover it up, showing a lack of sensitivity to victims. These days it's very woke to believe someone's truth (whether it's true or not). Just playing Devil's Advocate.

  8. I am not saying the man is guilty or innocent. According to the article, UMF would not have known about the past because he was not under investigation at the time of hire. Just making sure we are all on the same page. I would have to agree with My Take. Seems that UMF was trying to be transparent.

  9. UMF waited to release it until everyone else did. NPR, Sun Journal, tv station all released the story today.

  10. Welcome to 2020, where guilty is now spelled A-L-L-E-G-A-T-I-O-N and requires no judge and jury to prove, because the court of social justice is enough.

  11. Typical of leftist organizations. No due process. Guilty until proven innocent. Trial by public opinion.All too familiar these days..

  12. I do not know Mr. McInnes, but I would agree with Townie that UMF is simply trying to be transparent. Had they removed him and said nothing there would be outrage on this page that the university was complicit in a cover up. I have no doubt that he probably is a nice man who has helped many people. However, that does not excuse past behavior and seriously calls into question his fitness to be working with students. Actions have consequences. UMF's principle duty is to ensure the safety and well-being of its students. That is why he was removed after the investigation.

  13. All those screaming due process and innocent until proven guilty might want to support labor unions. In an at-will employment state, an employer has no duty to continue employing you and can fire you for any reason that is not discriminatory. As an adjunct professor, you generally have no labor protections that a tenured professor would have, so I assume you are also for expanding tenure protections in schools and universities.

  14. Jo unions don’t secure anything besides you being forced to pay dues that are used sometimes in a man er you don’t agree with. People’s point here is it wasn’t necessary for the college to make a big show about it by contacting near every news outlet in the state. It could have been handled with some decorum.

  15. Give me a break. Expose the perp. How many times are offenders plucked from one facility to another and end up reoffending?? It happens all the time. Think of past ( and future) victims before protecting institutions from a bad rap. Because my high school was highly accredited, the wrestling coach. who had sexually offended many, was silently transferred to another school. Years later and an article appeared that he had been arrested for multiple counts of sexual as abuse in th he new school.

  16. @Awww UMF did not "contact every news organization in the state." That is not how public relations works. They released a statement to the university community and then news organizations get ahold of it and chose to report on it. This story does not reflect positively on UMF either. It would not make sense for them to be running around talking about the wrongdoings of one of their former professors.

    Nancy is right. Typically these cases are not isolated. We do not know the scope of abuse. Just because it was not reported at UMF does not at all mean inappropriate behavior did not occur. People are missing the point. UMF did conduct an internal investigation and they determined that keeping the professor would be too great of a risk. We do not know the details of that investigation. Such information would be far more damaging that an announcement of his dismissal. Rob S is also right. UMF's priority is the kids. Whether or not this professor will be tried in court is up to the justice system. It is not UMF's purview. In my view this was handled appropriately.

  17. The word redemption has been officially dropped from the area’s vocabulary.

  18. Airing on the side of caution is a good thing it just seems it could have been done with a more discreetly . I mean he seems well liked . He's never been convicted of anything. New York State has had 14 years. Makes me feel like the case may be a little flimsy. One thing for sure is if he's ever aquitted we'll never know.
    It's scary how easy it is to ruin a life when the name, face and address makes the front page before their ever convicted.

  19. This man may have offended in the 90's in NY; however, the victim may have only discovered the abuse and initiated a lawsuit. When victims suppress the abuse, details may surface tears later through counseling. The Statute runs from date of discovery of the abuse.

    UMF had to fire him or otherwise risk liability.

  20. @Frostproof - redemption, for a sex offender? Unlikely. Sheer ignorance. There is no such thing as "too careful" when it comes to the safety and security of our children. His guilt or innocence is not really relevant.

  21. @J....."a "possible" past mistake"? Really? is our society so far gone that now the sexual abuse of a child is a mistake? I agree this is one of the worst uses of news i've seen in awhile however the public would go crazy if it was found that a lifelong perpetrator of abuse against children was shielded from the public by our beloved university.
    I'm sure the there are two sides to this story, its not our job to judge. However I will say that I am grateful that my children (I sent 3 to UMF) are in a university that actually gives a crap about this stuff. They botched enough in the past. Its about time. Better safe than sorry!

  22. This is clearly a difficult thing to take in given that this man was a predominant figure in so many areas of our community. However, has anyone read the court documents? Do you know the actual allegations? We want to be outraged at UMF and immediately say there's no way this nice man would commit these acts. And even if he did, it was "in the past". I mean, for the love of God, people were up in arms because the Homeless Shelter wanted to move downtown. GOD FORBID. "What about the possible loitering or the crime?!? etc, etc." But this??? "Eh, we know him. He's nice." If it was someone else in the community, someone not so predominant, would our feelings be different? I just don't think we should jump online bashing the University the first chance we get because we like this guy. Try to find some info first. Or try to imagine if it was your child. Would you be so quick to say it was just "in the past"? If you know Bruce, you are left with a decision and a choice as to how you will proceed. However, don't blame the University for acting inappropriately if you are not sure of the whole story.

  23. Please keep in mind folks that what they publish here is only a small snippet of what is actually being said. My opinions apparently need censoring. Interesting. Same old stuff.

  24. All comments should be posted on this subject. Not posting opinions is just another form of shielding abusers from what they need to hear. Take off those Chester earmuffs Farmington.

  25. The only victim was the minor who was touched and probably groomed by this adult. Let’s not lose sight here, the man is under investigation because the minor is no longer an innocent scared child. Don’t diminish the evidence needed to open up a case like this in New York State. The claims could be egregious and none of us know 100% of the evidence.

  26. The daily bulldog is too left leaning to print all opinions. Censorship absolutely, free speech yeah not so much.

  27. Agreed, Bonita. And with the evolution of the internet and readily available public records, research isn’t that hard.

  28. I cannot speak to what did or did not happen in NYC during the time period discussed, but I can say that I did know Dr. McInnes in the 1990s, when I was a parishioner at Grace Church. From our time together at Grace, I can testify that Bruce was extraordinarily talented, extremely kind, generous to a fault, and a faithful steward of his many gifts. I pray for him, his friends/family, the plaintiff, the school, and for all concerned. I am saddened to read this news.

  29. My linked-to post keeps getting censored. But it seems the plaintiff isn’t afraid of putting his own name/address/reputation on the line either. Just look for the “whole story” on the New York State unified court system website.

  30. How is UMF going to question this incident when they hired him if the allegations happened recently? Or do you people, claiming that it's UMF's responsibility to know who they hired, want it to be common practice to ask people during an interview if they have sexually assaulted individuals in the past? How can you shame an institution that just wants to be as transparent as possible, but absolutely reject the idea that this man is responsible for altering the lives of children. This man was able to continue on with his career, make impact in people's lives, and live freely. Can we absolutely say the same about the boys at plaintiffs and others who have spoken out?