Babylon teacher indicted on rape charges
A Babylon special education teacher indicted on charges of allegedly raping a 15-year-old student nine years ago pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Wednesday in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead.
Timothy Harrison, 46, of Oak Beach, was indicted on two counts of third-degree rape and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, felony charges that each carry a sentence of up to 4 years in prison, if convicted. A fifth charge is endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Suffolk County Court Judge Karen M. Wilutis ordered Harrison, who was released on bail earlier this month, to stay away from the victim and return to court April 26.
Harrison walked out of the courtroom with his wife without commenting.
“It remains simply an allegation. This is Day One,” Harrison's attorney, Kevin Keating, said outside the courthouse, noting his client maintains his innocence. “It's very difficult, obviously. But he's trying to remain strong and confident.”
Prosecutors said that in 2013, Harrison, then 38, began texting the student, then 15. That September, he brought her to his Oak Beach home, where he gave her alcohol and had sex, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Grier said. The pair later had sex on a second occasion at the defendant's home, Grier said.
“This defendant allegedly used his position as an educator and a trusted coach to take advantage of a minor,” Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Harrison, a former basketball and lacrosse coach at Babylon Junior-Senior High School, did not have a criminal record. He was arrested March 3 following a monthslong police investigation.
The Babylon district, which placed Harrison on leave last fall, declined to comment Wednesday.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said earlier this month that a female victim reported to police last November that she had a sexual relationship with the teacher between September and November 2013.
"My client has complete faith in the DA’s office. And that Ray Tierney and his staff will do all in their power to [ensure] that justice prevails," Vincent Grande III, a Copiague lawyer who said he represents the woman, wrote in texts Wednesday.
Prosecutors previously said Timothy Harrison had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, but no changes were filed since that student was above the age of consent.
Harrison’s indictment is the latest development surrounding the allegations made by former students who said they were sexually harassed and abused by their teachers in the Babylon district.
Harassment allegations surfaced shortly after teacher Jeffrey Kenney was placed on leave in late October. Kenney resigned Nov. 8 after reaching a settlement agreement with the district that stipulated he surrender his teaching licenses and never seek work in Babylon or any other school system in the United States. Kenney was not criminally charged.
Soon afterward, the district hired a former Suffolk County prosecutor, Chris Powers, to investigate the claims and placed five employees, including Harrison, on paid administrative leave. Days later, Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced a civil investigation. James' investigation is ongoing. Powers could not be reached for comment.