CORRECTION: See appended.
It’s a case of he said, she said. Literally.
Robert Munro, a Darien resident and custodian at Holmes School until his recent resignation, claims he never grabbed the wrist of former second grade Holmes teacher, Kathleen Verna, who said she suffered a fractured wrist after Munro grabbed her.
No witnesses or cameras captured the incident, leaving police and school investigators with little to go on other than the competing stories. The schools’ investigation concluded that Verna’s allegations were unsubstantiated, according to court documents. Munro, however, was put on paid suspension while the schools looked into the matter.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Falcone told The Times this is standard operating procedure.
“Whenever there’s a situation of a person being accused of alleged criminal activity,” Falcone said, “we have the ability to suspend them with pay and without prejudice, pending our investigation of that situation… Part of this is to keep all parties safe.”
Munro, a longtime employee of the district, resigned shortly after. It’s unclear whether Verna is still with the district. A search of the staff directories of all five elementary schools did not indicate her name, leading to the possibility she no longer works at Holmes or any other school.
Munro’s lawyer, Chris Bujdud, has not responded to numerous requests for comment, and a phone call to Verna’s attorney, Thomas McCabe, was not immediately returned.
On April 30 of this year, Verna told police that she saw Munro in the hallway of Holmes and told him she hoped summer school would be held at Holmes that year, to which Munro responded, “Don’t ever let me hear you say that again,” according to Verna’s sworn statement. Verna said Munro then grabbed her wrist, and she told him it hurt, at which point he squeezed harder. Eventually he let go, Verna said, and Munro asked if he could see her wrist, at which point he grabbed it, tapped it lightly, and said, “There, is that better?” and walked away, according to Verna.
Munro told police he never grabbed Verna, and agreed to take a lie detector test to prove his innocence. However, on the questions about whether he grabbed her, State Police Det. Brian Narkewicz said “deception was indicated.” While polygraph examinations are rarely admissible in court proceedings, Darien Police arrested Munro, but did not charge him with assault, which is a felony. He was instead charged with misdemeanor breach of peace.
Darien Police Capt. Fred Komm said the breach of peace statute encompasses assaulting or striking another person. Munro gave police a sworn written statement saying he never touched the teacher. Police said this proved to be false, and Munro was later charged for providing a false statement to police.
After the polygraph indicated deception, police said Munro then said he might have run into Verna while walking around a blind corner while carrying paper to the copy room. His earlier statement indicated he never touched her. Nowhere in the report does he ever admit to grabbing Verna, however.
Verna discussed the alleged incident with assistant principal Adam Carley two days later, who told Verna to see the school nurse and fill out a worker’s compensation form. It’s unclear what the nurse report indicated, but later that day Verna went to the Tully Health Heath Center, which indicated she suffered a hairline fracture, although it’s unclear whether Munro caused it.
Verna told police the pain in her wrist increased over the days following the alleged incident, which is why she eventually reported it. But the school administration’s investigation concluded her allegations were unsubstantiated, and Carley told police detectives Mark Cappelli and Saverio Boccuzzi in mid-May the results of their inquiry.
“Despite the Board of Education’s conclusion, Verna stated she wanted the incident pursued and that she wanted Munro arrested,” court documents stated.
Verna has not submitted to a polygraph examination. Several residents called The Times claiming that Verna has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, although none would go on record with their accusations or provide further information.
A 2006 lawsuit against Eden Park Health Care Center in New York resulted in a woman named Kathleen Verna, along with perhaps a dozen other women, settling for $250,000 on a sexual harassment suit. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said that when Verna complained to the center’s administration, they responded by promoting the person she claimed harassed her to be her supervisor. “When Verna refused to work with him, she was fired,” according to a report in the North Country Gazette.
It’s unclear, however, if this is the same Kathleen Verna who accused Munro of breaking her wrist. Eden Park denied the allegations even after settling, according to the Gazette.
Munro faces more fines and prison time for lying to police than he does for the breech of peace charge, as lying is a class A misdemeanor and the other charge is class B. He faces up to 18 months in jail and $3,000 in fines if convicted. He had a court on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
CORRECTION: The Darien Times initially included comments from a user on the Darien Patch website who made claims against Verna. The comment was made by an individual who had no involvement in the matter and the comment amounted to unsubstantiated speculation. We apologize to Verna for including the comments.