SPRINGFIELD — A former student of the Academy of Arts and Academics said she was surprised when Springfield police Detective George Crolly called her in January, more than three years after she ended contact with the school’s principal, Mike Fisher.
Her previous relationship with Fisher, a married man, was a secret that she would have taken to “her grave,” she told Crolly, who had traveled to her home in another state to interview her.
The woman, now 25 and married, told Crolly that Fisher had raped her for years, starting when she was a juvenile, and had manipulated her by threatening to kill himself if she cut off communication, according to police and school district reports obtained by The Register-Guard through a public records request.
The woman told Crolly that she enrolled at A3 in fall 2006 and that Fisher immediately took a liking to her. He befriended her, talked to her about her dysfunctional home life, her middle school experiences and life in general.
She claimed that the sexual abuse started soon after, when she was 14 years old, according to Crolly’s report. The victim told Crolly that Fisher offered to give her a ride home from play rehearsal one evening, which started their time alone. Fisher was the director of school plays, as well as the school’s principal, the report said.
During a ride home, Fisher held the victim’s hand, and did so on several other occasions, telling her that she was special and mature, she said. He told her that she was “going to set the world on fire,” and that she was “unlike any student he had ever met.”
Eventually, Fisher kissed her, the woman said, adding that she did not tell anyone about it.
In the following months, Fisher invited her to a vacant room above the Emerald Art Center, where he would kiss her, caress her and they would lay on the floor together, the woman told Crolly. He brought pillows for them to lay on, she said.
She said she felt frozen and didn’t know what to do during those interactions. The inappropriate behavior escalated over time, she explained, until Fisher met the victim in the A3 main building one day, took off her clothes and molested her for about an hour while she felt frozen in fear.
He brought “the same damn pillows,” the victim tearfully told Crolly, according to a police report.
During the next three years, Fisher raped and molested the victim in different places, including an A3 classroom and hotel rooms, according to Crolly’s report. A room key she kept and hotel records confirmed that Fisher was a hotel guest on the dates the victim claimed.
Fisher also gave her money and roles in school plays, the report said.
Fisher told the victim that she couldn’t tell anyone about what he was doing to her because other students and staff members would be upset with her if he was fired and the school closed as a result.
“He put the burden of the secret on me,” she told Crolly.
Before she graduated from A3 in 2010, Fisher allegedly bought her a promise ring to show how much he loved her and was committed to her.
The victim left Lane County that fall to begin college, while Fisher continued to give her money, offered to help pay her bills and demanded to see her. On one occasion, the victim said, they met for coffee, where he told her he was having marital problems and was sleeping in a separate room from his wife. The victim said she felt trapped and didn’t know how to break things off. She tried to distance herself from Fisher, but when she was raped by a man at her college, she reached out to Fisher for support.
In spring 2011, the victim transferred to the University of Oregon and moved into a duplex in Springfield that Fisher owned. In 2013, she moved to an apartment in Eugene, and Fisher co-signed for her.
The victim told Crolly that she felt depressed and tried to avoid Fisher, but he threatened to kill himself if she didn’t talk to him, so she continued to communicate “to avoid the drama.”
In 2013, the victim joined a gym, and Fisher soon joined the same gym. She cut off all communication with him for the next eight months, the report states. But in 2014, she texted him because she was upset, she told Crolly.
Fisher took her to the beach and said he had moved out of his family home. He asked her to move in with him, which she did in June 2014. She described that as “the lowest point” of her life.
The victim graduated from college and got a job teaching at A3 in fall 2014, the report states. One day when she was at work, Fisher called her to say he accidentally started a house fire and burned their house down. Her dog was killed. She told Crolly that at that point she’d had enough. She stayed with him in another rental house for a few weeks but ended their sexual relationship. She started seeing someone else, while living in a separate bedroom in Fisher’s rental house, which made Fisher angry, she said.
The victim moved out, but Fisher showed up at places she went, the report states. She told Crolly that she believed he was tracking her via her cellphone, which he had paid for.
At A3, Fisher refused to work with her or talk to her, she said. She said staff members started giving her looks, making her think that Fisher was spreading rumors about her. When the school year ended in May 2015, Fisher fired the victim, telling her that her job was no longer being funded.
She told Crolly that looking back, she believes that her firing was the best thing that could have happened. She got married and moved away.
In September 2016, Fisher reached out to her in an email, asking her to participate in an interview about her “great experiences” at A3. She replied that she no longer wished to have contact with him.
He allegedly responded “OK,” according to the report.