Local journalist, professor arraigned on assault charges

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BRATTLEBORO — A local journalist and professor is facing assault charges.

MacLean C. Gander, 65, of Guilford, pleaded not guilty to a felony count of aggravated domestic assault with a weapon and a misdemeanor count of domestic assault Tuesday in Windsor Superior Court, Criminal Division. Conditions of release forbid Gander from purchasing alcohol, possessing deadly weapons and contacting the victim.

According to an affidavit filed by the Vermont State Police, the victim told police that Gander backed her up against a counter with a 6-inch knife in his hand and threatened to stab her. She reported that Gander told her on multiple occasions in the last two years that she would be a “perfect candidate to be murdered by a man” and that he had thought about raping her. She also recounted how he had coerced her previously into having sex.

Gander confirmed the knife incident had occurred, according to the affidavit. He told police that he and the victim had been arguing frequently.

“He advised he had been cooking, and when she approached him, he held up the knife,” states the affidavit.

The victim gave police a recounting of what she described as escalating abusive behavior that concerned her.

On Tuesday, Gander appeared by video conferencing from Southern State Correctional Facility and was represented by attorney Rick Ammons of the Windham County Public Defender’s Office. Gander said he does not expect to qualify financially to be represented by a public defender going forward.

The Commons immediately suspended its association with Gander, according to an article that its editor-in-chief Jeff Potter shared on his Facebook profile. The article notes Gander is a longtime contributor to the Commons and former Newsweek journalist.

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Gander is a professor at Landmark College in Putney in the department of professional studies at Landmark and has worked for the college in Putney in several academic and administrative capacities since the late 1980s. He served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college for 11 years, according to his biography on Landmark’s website.

“A prolific contributor of commentary and analysis to The Commons, Gander has volunteered as the nonprofit newspaper’s investigative reporter since 2018,” states the article Potter posted. “He also recently stepped down as vice president of the board of directors of the newspaper’s parent organization, Vermont Independent Media.”

In a Facebook post on Monday, Potter described being “gutted” by the Vermont State Police’s news release on the incident. The release says Gander was arrested on charges of domestic assault and criminal threatening after a report made in June led to an investigation.

“As a newspaper, 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,” Potter wrote. “For years, Mac Gander has been a friend, a colleague, and a collaborator in strengthening The Commons. But the newsroom received a press release from the state police tonight, and under the circumstances, I can’t in good conscience not shine the spotlight squarely on us and tell you what we know.”

Potter added, “As long as I’m the editor, we will be transparent and decisive in how we handle matters of this nature involving the very people who have been reporting on members of the community who have caused harm and institutions that kept quiet. We would expect no less from others, so how can we not hold ourselves to that same standard?”

In a statement, Landmark College said it learned of the charges against Gander on Tuesday and will continue “to gather all relevant information.”

“We do not believe that Prof. Gander is a threat to the safety of our students or the broader Landmark College community,” the statement reads. “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. We will keep the LC community apprised.”

Gander also is the son of Rod Gander, a former state senator and longtime Marlboro College president.

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