Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison held a news conference at Suffolk police headquarters Thursday announcing the arrest of a Babylon school district teacher, Timothy Harrison. He was arrested on charges of raping a 15-year-old girl nine years ago, Harrison said. Credit: Newsday / James Carbone/James Carbone

A Babylon school district teacher was arrested Thursday on charges of raping a 15-year-old girl nearly nine years ago, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison announced.

Timothy Harrison, 46, of Oak Beach, a special-education teacher and a coach at Babylon Junior-Senior High School, was taken into custody around 7:40 a.m. Thursday. He’s expected to be held overnight and arraigned in Central Islip on Friday, the police commissioner said. Harrison, who is not related to the police commissioner, had no prior arrests.

Police said a female victim alleged that she had a sexual relationship with the teacher, then 38, between September and November 2013, when she was a student.

The police commissioner said the alleged inappropriate physical contact took place at school but the sexual incidents were off school grounds.

Harrison was an assistant girls lacrosse and basketball coach at Babylon high school and also, until last November, a lacrosse coach for girls younger than 13 at Legacy Lacrosse, a sports club in Bohemia, police said.

Officers had "an eyeball on him," followed him outside his residence, pulled him over Thursday morning on Robert Moses Causeway in West Islip and arrested him, Rodney Harrison said in an afternoon news conference.

The teacher, who police said was suspended by the district last year, was taken to the First Precinct and charged with two counts of third-degree rape and one count of third-degree criminal sexual act, police said.

Rodney Harrison said the department launched an investigation after the school district contacted police last October regarding allegations of sexual misconduct. The woman reported the sexual relationship to police in November, police said.

"I'd like to commend the victim in this case who has exhibited so much bravery coming forward years after she was preyed upon," the commissioner said. "We hope this arrest brings the victim some sense of peace and [that] she knows that her voice was heard."

It was unclear if Timothy Harrison is represented by a lawyer.

Harrison’s arrest is the latest development surrounding the allegations made by former students who said they were sexually harassed and abused by their teachers at Babylon.

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.

Allegations made against other teachers became public after the alleged victims posted accounts on social media and spoke before the school board on Nov. 15. That week, the district hired a former Suffolk County prosecutor, Chris Powers, to investigate the claims and placed five employees on paid administrative leave. Days later, Attorney General Letitia James’ office announced a civil investigation.

Darcy Orlando Bennet, who spoke at that November meeting of being sexually harassed by another coach when she was a student, said she’s proud of the woman who came forward.

"I think this is really only the beginning," said Bennet, who co-founded Babylon Alumni & Allies for Change, an advocacy group. "We're taking really big steps in getting the justice we need."

District officials declined to say whether Timothy Harrison was one of the employees placed on leave last fall.

Babylon schools Superintendent Linda Rozzi said Thursday in a statement that the district, when it first learned of "this alleged inappropriate behavior" in November, "acted immediately by removing the individual from his classroom, reassigning him to his residence, removing all privileges, and immediately notifying law enforcement authorities."

Det. Lt. Dylan Friedlander, commander of the Special Victims Section at the Suffolk police department, said there’s no active criminal case against others so far.

"As of right now, this is our only criminal complaint and only case that we have," he said. "We're asking anybody to come forward if they believe they have any information regarding a crime or if they believe they are a victim of a crime."

Police on Thursday declined to release more details but acknowledged the difficulty of proving the case.

"It's difficult, very hard," Rodney Harrison said. "There's no crime scene. There's no video. [It's] nine years ago. So, of course, evidence is very hard for us to put into the investigation. But we have to go with her word and do [what] we have to do to … charge the perpetrator for the crimes."

Vincent Grande III, a Copiague lawyer who said he represents the woman, called Timothy Harrison’s alleged behavior "disgusting."

"Obviously, the police believe they had probable cause to arrest him," he said Thursday in a phone interview. "Let the system do what the system will do."

Police ask anyone who believes they may be a victim to call Special Victims Section detectives at 631-852-8791.

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