Teacher Felipe Argueta cleared of inappropriate touching charges
A former teacher at the Eastport-South Manor Central School District who was accused of inappropriately touching a female student in his high school Spanish class was acquitted by a Suffolk jury Thursday.
Felipe Argueta, 38, of Mount Sinai, who was tried on a charge of child endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor, was a free man after a jury deliberated for three hours at the close of the weeklong trial before acting County Court Judge Steven A. Lotto, said Argueta's attorney, Michael J. Brown of Central Islip.
"He's overjoyed," Brown said of his client, adding that Argueta was unable to find work as a teacher while the charges were pending. "He's been waiting three years to be vindicated and he simply wants to return to his passion, which is teaching."
The Suffolk district attorney's office could not be reached for comment.
Argueta was arrested in June 2011 after a student accused him of inappropriately touching her while the two were alone at school, Brown said. The student, who took the stand for the prosecution during the trial, was in Argueta's Spanish class. She claimed the inappropriate contact occurred in 2010.
Argueta was suspended from his position at the school district when the girl reported the allegation to school officials, who conducted an investigation and notified Suffolk police.
"The jury listened attentively to the witness testify and came to the same conclusion that we did -- her story was pure fabrication," Brown said.