FCPS teacher previously accused of groping students is run out of middle school classroom

Lexington, KY–A Fayette County Public Schools middle school teacher has reportedly left his post after his students dug up information about criminal charges he faced in the past and confronted him with it. Richard “Rick” Massie reportedly fled his classroom and did not return in September after facing questions from students about various online news stories about him. The stories detailed his alleged inappropriate conduct with juvenile girls at his previous teaching post in Bourbon County.

According to WKYT, the 2016 charges were eventually dropped because, “The prosecution says they felt it might be difficult to prove the case in court and that they did not want to have to force the young girls to testify in court during a trial. All four families involved agreed to dismiss the case.”

Massie faced serious allegations from multiple students and their families in August 2016. According to a WKYT report:

One victim said that on several occasions, Massie would kiss her on the forehead and also repeatedly caress her on the side of her body near her breasts. The documents also say that on one occasion, Massie “put his hand on the lower back, upper buttocks of the juvenile.” According to the warrant, after school hours one day, Massie was seen in his classroom with no lights on, rubbing the legs of the victim. The offenses reportedly occurred between September 2015 and March 2016.

A different student accused Massie of similar behavior. According to a warrant, Massie would often give the juvenile a ride to school. The student accused Massie of rubbing her thighs on at least one occasion. The warrant goes on to say that just prior to Christmas break in 2015, Massie hugged the victim, wrapping his arms around her, before touching her buttocks and pulling her in close to him. During another incident, Massie is accused of hugging the girl and whispering in her ear, “Don’t worry, Daddy’s got you.

In March of 2016, Massie reportedly bumped into the girl at the Paris Walmart. The juvenile says he got too close to her, making her feel uncomfortable. The girl’s aunt saw what happened and became alarmed. The warrant says she separated Massie and the girl.

The warrant goes on to say that Massie admitted to most of the allegations, but attempted to justify his conduct under the guise of religion/emotional support.

WKYT: Bourbon Co. middle school teacher accused of harassing students

Massie was hired by FCPS in Summer 2022. His FCPS employment application does not mention the incidents. Because the charges were eventually dismissed, he was not required to report them on his application. For this reason, it’s not clear if the district was aware of his history or not. Massie appears to have had an inside track to his new job, however–he listed a family member already working at FCPS in the disclosures section of his application.

The most recent records seen by the Times show that Massie is still employed by the school district, but sources close to his former school say he hasn’t been seen on campus since September, when he was confronted in the classroom by his students.

The Herald-Leader’s editorial board recently penned an editorial titled “Kentucky must tighten training, close legal loopholes, to stop sexual abuse by educators.” The found that:

Kentucky has some of the highest child abuse and neglect rates in the country. This week — as reporters Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears masterfully documented — we’ve learned that some of that abuse is happening where children ought to feel safe: in schools.

They spent a year reviewing documents and interviewing people to find that of 194 teachers whose teaching license was surrendered, suspended or revoked by the state Education Professional Standards Board from 2016 to 2021, 61% were related to sexual misconduct. Furthermore, some of these cases were never punished and some of the perpetrators were passed onto to other school districts.

What’s most shocking is that Kentucky appears to have lax rules about training educators and a patchwork of punishment that is filled with loopholes. Although it might appear obvious to many of us that teachers should not begin to text or date their students, a few of them apparently need to be told explicitly to both recognize the problem and stop such inappropriate relationships and abuse in their tracks.

Our take: There are still a lot of unanswered questions around Massie’s hiring, but it’s good to see kids standing up and giving themselves a say in what adults they want supervising their classrooms, especially when other adults won’t.

Richard Massie in court for 15 counts of harassment in Bourbon County. Charges were eventually dropped. 📸 WKYT