Prep coach fired when nude photo goes online

Published 5:16 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

SOUTH PARIS, Maine (AP) — It took 10 minutes of online exposure for a high school football coach to lose his job.

Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School football coach Paul Withee resigned his positions as coach and middle school science and math teacher on Monday, a week after he posted a nude photo of himself on Facebook.

School Superintendent Rick Colpitts said Tuesday that Withee intended to send the explicit photo to a friend but ended up making it public to his Facebook friends. Withee told Colpitts that the photo was posted for 10 minutes — long enough to be seen by a parent who alerted school administrators.

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“He’s contrite and apologetic,” Colpitts said. “It’s disappointing. We’re all disappointed. Even when it’s a mistake, there are still consequences. That’s really the story here.”

The superintendent said he’s convinced that Withee never intended for the photo to be seen by students. School policy bars teachers from being Facebook friends with students unless it’s part of an activity approved by the school, but no students were among the coach’s Facebook friends, Colpitts said.

Withee couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press on Tuesday. But he told the Sun Journal newspaper, “I’m embarrassed, I’m ashamed, I’m humiliated.”

Withee previously coached football and taught math at Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, where he spent 19 years and won three state football championships before school officials decided not to renew his contract in 2008.

Peter Culley, who was president of the Foxcroft Academy’s board of trustees at the time, declined to discuss the reason behind Withee’s dismissal. Foxcroft Academy is a private school that also takes in local students on a tuition basis.

Withee was hired as coach at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in March.

His abrupt resignation came as a surprise to the western Maine community. Some felt bad that Withee’s mistake cost him his job, while others felt that he should go.

Don Gouin, a former football coach and school board member, said Withee made a big mistake. Said Gouin, for whom the local football field is named: “This is tragic for everybody, not just the school but for Paul Withee.”