Joseph Magno’s reputation was legendary. A teacher of Maynard High School for 42 years and a faculty adviser for the Maynard High School WAVM, the student radio and television station, he had taught generations of residents from the police chief to the parents pushing strollers on Nason Street to the latest crop of Maynard High School students.
Many adored him this high school teacher.
Yesterday, Maynard police held high school teacher Joseph Magno, a Hudson resident, on $250,000 bail. Today, he is to be arraigned in Concord District Court on charges of rape of a child, indecent assault and battery of a child under the age of 14, and indecent assault and battery of a child over the age of 14. The charges stem from the same alleged high school victim, police said.
Known affectionately as Mags, he took Maynard High School students to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania one year, ran Beacon Santa, a Christmas time telethon to raise money for the poor, and helped raise money and build a skate park for the town’s teenagers. But the revelation that Joseph Magno, 65, has been charged with raping a male high school student has left town residents and officials trying to reconcile the Joseph Magno they knew and the man police are describing as a criminal.
Since Joseph Magno was arrested at the high school WAVM offices on Friday night, police say, several more people have come forward with allegations of abuse against him, leveling charges that have ripped apart the trust and intimacy that bind this close-knit community.
“When I was there, he was a good man, an excellent teacher, and I have no reason to think otherwise,” said Erik Pekkala, 20 a former Maynard high school student, who was fighting tears yesterday.
A 2004 graduate of Maynard High School and former general manager of WAVM, Pekkala spoke after listening to police detail the charges against his former teacher at a news conference in the town municipal building.
Police said they decided to charge Magno after the student, who has since left the high school, came forward Thursday night and said Joseph Magno had abused him over a three-year period, at least once inside Maynard high school.
On Friday night, Police Chief James Corcoran drove to the WAVM offices at Maynard high school to arrest the man who had been his teacher decades ago. Magno, who friends said is not married, was at a restaurant with several students, but when he returned to WAVM the chief took him into a side room and arrested him.
“I’m trying to keep my personal feelings out and just go off the facts of the case,” Corcoran told reporters yesterday. “I’ve known Mr. Magno for 36 years.”