After almost four months of paid suspension, a Stevensville teacher embroiled in a sexual assault scandal with a male student has formally resigned.
Bret Tate, the school’s band teacher for 18 years, turned in his letter of resignation on May 13, just one day before a special school board meeting to review Tate’s alleged misconduct with former student Stephen Hilburn. The board accepted his resignation at that May 14 meeting.
A civil suit, filed by Hilburn in Ravalli County District Court in February, accuses Tate of assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment, stemming from a trip the two took to Gardiner to take photos in Yellowstone.
The suit also holds the school district, along with several former and current trustees and the superintendent, accountable for negligence. Hilburn feels the district should have recognized Tate as a threat due to rumors around school.
“I didn’t hear any rumors until we received a complaint from a law firm,” said Stevensville Superintendent Dennis Kimzey. “If there were rumors, I didn’t know about them.”
According to court documents, Tate and Hilburn traveled to Gardiner on Feb. 15, 2002 and slept in a motel room together. On the evening of Feb. 16, Tate allegedly provided alcohol for Hilburn and drank heavily. The suit claims Tate told Hilburn he’d had sex with other Stevensville high school students and propositioned Hilburn, who turned him down. The rejection allegedly enraged Tate and he tackled the student and fondled him. Hilburn fought him off, but stayed in the same room for the night because he had nowhere else to go. The next morning Tate acted like nothing happened.
In Tate’s resignation letter he says, “I am, of course, aware of the charges that have been made against me and the school district by a former student, and I take this opportunity to state that those charges are not true. I will defend myself vigorously against those charges…I have also come to the decision that I no longer have the energy and desire to continue to teach.”