Journalist faces charges for domestic assault

Landmark College professor, a Commons contributor, pleads not guilty to two counts

BRATTLEBORO — A Landmark College professor - and longtime contributor to The Commons - pleaded not guilty on Aug. 23 to a charge of first degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon.

MacLean Gander, 65, of Jelly Mill Road in Guilford, was arrested by Vermont State Police on Aug. 22 after authorities received a complaint about him threatening a person known to him with a knife following “escalating abusive behaviors” involving alcohol and drugs, according to a police affidavit.

As a general practice, VTDigger, state police, and The Commons do not name victims of domestic violence without their consent.

Gander was held overnight at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield before an online arraignment on Aug. 23, when he also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of domestic assault.

He was released on conditions, which include not possessing alcohol and weapons and not contacting the person who brought the complaint.

If convicted, Gander faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for the first charge and 1{1/2} years and a fine of up to $5,000 for the second charge.

Gander has worked at Putney's Landmark College for 35 years, with stints as English department chair, dean, and vice president of academic affairs and of external affairs and strategic planning.

“We do not believe that Professor Gander is a threat to the safety of our students or the broader Landmark College community,” the school said in a statement. “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.”

Gander, who worked for Newsweek and The Nation in the 1980s, has been a prolific contributor of commentary and analysis to The Commons, and had volunteered as the nonprofit newspaper's investigative reporter since 2018. He stepped down in May as vice-president of the board of the nonprofit newspaper's parent organization, Vermont Independent Media.

The Commons newsroom “immediately suspended its association” with Gander, editor Jeff Potter said in a statement that first appeared on Facebook.

“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,” he said.

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