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A Fox 25 news report alleging a Malden teacher performed in pornographic films has received international attention, with journalists and readers alike debating newsroom ethics, the responsibilities of teachers and gay rights.
Station reporter Mike Beaudet reported Tuesday that English Teacher Kevin Hogan had starred in at least three videos as early as last year, before he was hired to work at the school.
Hogan denied involvement when confronted by Beaudet on tape, and was later placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by school officials.
According to the Boston Globe, Hogan also taught at St. Clement High School in Medford for two years in the early 90s.
Students, parents abuzz
Reached by phone Wednesday, school spokesman Martin Gately said he couldn't reveal details about the school's investigation, but could confirm it was ongoing and would continue indefinitely.
“These kind of situations don't work themselves out overnight,” he said.
Gately said he couldn't weigh in on student and parent reactions to the case, though some took to social media to express their support for the teacher this week, with many criticizing Fox for broadcasting the story in the first place.
“I'm a student at Mystic Valley Charter School and also a student of Mr. Hogan's,” Tanzeem Alam wrote. “The media...had no right or reason to expose him in such a manner and have done unforgivable and permanent damage to the school, especially Mr. Hogan.”
Parent Leah Coughlin-Macone said she submitted a letter to school administrators calling Hogan “a great asset” who “restored...pride” to the crew team he coached at the school.
“He is a caring man who takes a sincere interest in each and every...kid, gets things accomplished and stands up for the team,” she wrote. “...Never have I or my kids felt uncomfortable or threatened by him, they respect him. I don't look to teachers to set a moral standard, that's my job.
“I say we should stand behind him and show support for a fellow (fallible) human being,” she concluded.
“As a student at Mystic Valley, I think that this whole situation is ridiculous,” sophomore Krystiana DiMaro said. “Fox 25 shouldn’t have brought this to the public eye for any reason.”
City councilman Neil Kinnon, who chairs the Mystic Valley trustees, declined to comment for the story.
A national debate
Though Beaudet tweeted “(I) don't really care if the guy is gay or straight. Question is, is porn appropriate occupation for a teacher?” to an online critic Tuesday, commentators from outside of the Boston-area - including gay bloggers like Joe My God and Huffington Post columnist Brody Brown - charged the report was driven by homophobia, and amounted to a "modern day Witch-hunt in Massachusetts."
“What Fox is doing...is attempting to paint yet another gay man as a pedophile,” Joe wrote.
“Hogan is on paid administrative leave while the school investigates, and the charter school told Fox 25 in a statement that they 'value the health and safety of their students,'” Brown wrote. “That's great and all, but how does the students' general 'health' and 'safety' relate to the uncovering of Hogan's past in porn?
"...Was any of the sex non-consensual? Did the films feature use of illegal substances? Or were they filmed with minors? Nope.”
Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan, however, disagreed with the mounting criticisms of Beaudet.
“If (Hogan) made (the films) last year but had a different occupation — say a stockbroker or even a college professor — I’d give him a pass,” Eagan wrote. “But his students are teenagers. Teachers are supposed to be moral exemplars. They’ve been fired for such minor infractions as appearing online, on vacation, with cocktails in hand.
“And what will Hogan’s teenage students do now? They’ll Google “Just Gone Gay 8” and see their teacher...totally naked surrounded by men in various states of undress and arousal. English class can never be the same.”
Another observer, based in Maryland, started a “Support Kevin Hogan, Fire Mike Beaudet” Facebook page. By 2 a.m. Thursday morning, the group had just under 1,000 likes, though most of them were from supporters outside of the Boston area.
“I did it because this (report) reeks of homophobia,” page administrator Mikey Russo said. “As a gay man, I know how terrifying and life-shattering it can be to be outed. When outed, a lot of people commit suicide. I want Mr. Hogan to know that there are people out there who 100 (per cent) support him, and think he would be a fine teacher.”
It is not clear whether Hogan self-identifies as gay.
A second page, titled “We Want Mr. Hogan Back,” had about 100 supporters Thursday morning.
While Beaudet promptly returned an interview request, he required approval from his station's marketing department - which had closed for the day - to comment on the record.
Until then, he referred Patch readers to his Wednesday night broadcast, in which he addressed some of his detractors' criticisms.
“As you know, we get a lot of tips, and that's how this story started - a viewer called us concerned because (Hogan) recently starred in three pornographic movies,” he said.
“The movies aren't something he did 20 years ago, they were made just last year,” he continued. “...We went to the school, talked to parents with kids there...and some were concerned.
“The question is: if this guy made these made these movies on his own time, what's the big deal? The big deal is that teachers aren't free to act as they please when their behavior is public."
Beaudet noted that providing evidence of "sound moral character" is a legal prerequisite for becoming a registered teacher in the commonwealth.