Crime and Justice

Windham County professor and writer pleads not guilty to domestic assault

Windham County professor and writer MacLean Gander appears Tuesday, Aug. 23, at online Superior Court arraignment. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

A Windham County professor who writes for the area’s weekly newspaper has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon.

MacLean Gander, 65, of Guilford was arrested by Vermont State Police on Monday after authorities received a complaint about him threatening a person known to him with a knife following “escalating abusive behaviors” involving alcohol and drugs, according to a police affidavit.

As a general practice, VTDigger does not name victims of domestic violence without their consent.

Gander was held overnight at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield before an online arraignment Tuesday, when he also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of domestic assault. He was released on conditions, which include not possessing alcohol and weapons and not contacting the person who brought the complaint.

If convicted, Gander faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Gander has worked at Putney’s Landmark College for 35 years, with stints as English department chair, dean, and vice president of academic affairs and of external affairs and strategic planning.

“We do not believe that Professor Gander is a threat to the safety of our students or the broader Landmark College community,” the school said in a statement. “However, we acknowledge the serious nature of these allegations, and will determine what actions are needed and appropriate as we gain more feedback and information.”

Gander, who worked for Newsweek and The Nation in the 1980s, has written investigative stories for The Commons — Windham County’s weekly newspaper — since 2018. He recently stepped down as vice president of the board of the nonprofit newspaper’s parent organization, Vermont Independent Media.

The Commons “immediately suspended its association” with Gander, editor Jeff Potter said in a statement. Potter said his paper will report on the assault charges in its Wednesday edition.

“We can’t be a credible watchdog of other institutions on matters of domestic violence or sexual assault if we don't proactively cover difficult news that emerges in our own newsroom,” he said.

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