WASHINGTON - More than four years after retiring as a distinguished math teacher at Montgomery Blair High School, Eric Walstein has been accused of harassing and demeaning female students by hundreds of alumni.
The former teacher is now defending himself against a #MeToo movement that began a few months ago on Facebook.
Walstein spent more than four decades teaching math in the magnet program at the Silver Spring high school and retired in 2013. But over the holidays, a closed Facebook page began gathering members who wanted to share stories of what they say was inappropriate sexist behavior by Walstein to include overt harassment.
Within weeks, they had decided to take those stories and share them with the faculty at Montgomery Blair High School, which then shared them with the school system and ultimately the police.
Walstein and one of his accusers both individually spoke to FOX 5 about the allegations.
"I was really glad to see that a conversation was being started about sexual harassment at our school," said former student Elizabeth Green. "It was something that I wanted to have a conversation about when I was in school back in 2001 I think when I had his class."
"In terms of shy people who would sit in the back and just get lost, I couldn't let that happen so I moved them up," Walstein told FOX 5. "Now, did I make a couple of dumb jokes like, 'Do you want to kiss?' And I give a girl a candy kiss. Yeah, so I did a couple of dumb things like that. It seemed to me a joke at the time."
"I was really glad to see people coming together to talk openly about the experiences that we had and start connecting the dots to understand a little bit more of what happened and why nothing had happened to prevent the behavior that the teacher displayed to so many of us over the years," said Green.
"When I retired, I actually felt that my legacy was if not the best math teacher in Montgomery County, [I was] the best math teacher on the East Coast," said Walstein. "I left with the highest regard for what I had put 30 years in the magnet."
"To have people from classes starting in the late '80s all the way to very recent classes, all shared very similar, detailed accounts," Green said. "It was really upsetting and very powerful to see that my experience was part of a broader pattern."
"I never did some of the things that are in this article," Walstein said. "I never touched anybody, I never harassed anybody. I did try to be extremely honest with them."
"He talked openly about sex, he made us feel under scrutiny for our bodies and the part that was at the time the most disturbing to me was that he would give the answers on this weekly quiz that he would give every Friday and he would sort of give the answers to some of the female students. They tended to be the ones he was also giving this sort of sexual attention to."
"They sent it to the police and the police answered back - there is nothing here," said Walstein.
"He was someone who made girls uncomfortable and everyone knew that," Green said.
"It's taking what I consider to be a magnificent career and ruining it," said Walstein.
Montgomery County Public Schools released a statement about the allegations saying in part:
"The alleged behavior described in the letter provided by alumni is deeply disturbing and appalling. We commend those who have come forward to share their stories. Bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination will not be tolerated in our schools."
Here is the letter sent to the faculty of Montgomery Blair High School by alumni members regarding the allegations of inappropriate behavior by Walstein (App users: Click here)