Marcellus Teacher Arrested for Allegedly Touching Student During Art Class
An teacher from Syracuse is facing charges of sexual abuse after allegedly touching a 17-year old inappropriately.
(EDITOR's NOTE: The nature of this story is sensitive and it may not be appropriate for all readers.)
New York State Police say that 65-year old Timothy E. Smarzo, who worked as an art teacher at Marcellus High School, is accused of "forcibly touching the intimate parts of a female student (who is) under the age of 17...during an art class."
According to the written release from troopers:
"New York State Penal Law defines “Forcible Touching” as : A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor's sexual desire."
They say that the Marcellus Central School District is fully cooperating with the investigation. Parents and staff at the school have been notified of the arrest. Police are asking anyone who may have information that may be helpful to the case, or that may be of interest to authorities, to call State Police Investigator William Casey at the McMahon / Ryan Child Advocacy Center at: (315) 701-2985 or the Oneida barracks at: (315) 366.6000.
Formal charges filed against Smarzo include two counts of forcible touching, consider to be a "Class A" misdemeanor, and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, also a misdemeanor. He was released and issued an appearance ticket to appear at the Town of Marcellus Court at 6:30pm on December 9, 2014.
A letter from Marcellus Central School District Superintendent Craig J. Tice has been mailed to parents of children in the district. In it he states that letters were not sent home with students because of the sensitive nature of the letter's contents.
Smarzo, who remains innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, was suspended with pay. Superintendent Tice, who did not mention Smarzo by name in the letter - identifying him instead as a "tenured faculty member," says that he banned Smarzo from school property immediately upon hearing the allegations. He says, "We are stunned and saddened to learn of these disturbing charges."
Tice says he was notified by police at approximately 2:00pm on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 of the charges pending against Smarzo after the victim's parents had gone directly to police to report the alleged incident. By 2:10pm Smarzo had been removed from the high school campus by troopers Bill Casey and Peter Burns.
He went on to explain why Smarzo was granted paid leave:
"As a tenured faculty member, the instructor cannot be suspended without pay before a state disciplinary hearing is conducted. District officials also deactivated his ID badge and froze his district computer accounts."
in the letter the superintendent also says that he notified the New York State Department of Education of the arrest and the student's parents were notified of their rights in accordance with state law.
He says counselors will be available for all students who need support, especially during what is expected to be a difficult time.
"The physical and emotional well-being of all Marcellus students remains our absolute top priority," Tice said, "and we will do all we can to make sure everyone on campus feels safe and informed in the days and weeks ahead."
This is the second arrest this week of a teacher in Central New York on sex-related charges.
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