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Hauppauge choir director indicted on sexual assault charges, court papers say

Hauppauge High School Choir director Mark Kimes was

Hauppauge High School Choir director Mark Kimes was indicted Friday on sexual assault charges involving a student. Credit: SCPD

The choir director at Hauppauge High School was charged in a 10-count indictment unveiled Friday for allegedly raping a student in 2017.

Mark Kimes, 53, of Moriches, was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree criminal sexual act and other crimes after prosecutors say he gave the then-16-year-old male student alcohol before sexually assaulting him on Sept. 4, 2017.

Kimes, also a veteran band leader in the New York Army National Guard, pleaded not guilty during an appearance Friday before Judge Karen Wilutis in Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead.

“A teacher in a position of trust, well-respected, described by community members as beloved, is charged with a course of conduct that shocks the conscience,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said after Kimes’ court appearance. 

Kimes' attorney, John LoTurco of Huntington, said his client denies the allegations.

"We will scrutinize the motive of the complainant for bringing these scurrilous allegations and we will thoroughly review all discovery material provided by the district attorney’s office in preparation for our defense," he said.

Kimes gave the victim, now 18 years old, alcohol at least three times between Aug. 17, 2017, and Sept. 4, 2017, according to Sini and court documents. Kimes also allowed the victim to smoke marijuana in his apartment before using “forcible compulsion” to engage sexual conduct, the indictment said. The student was sleeping when Kimes assaulted him, Sini said. 

“It is critically important to get justice for the victim, justice for the community, and to keep this dangerous person off the street,” Sini said. 

Kimes, released on $100,000 bond shortly after his Aug. 12 arrest by the Suffolk County Police Department, is scheduled to return to court Sept. 23. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, Sini said. 

Sini encouraged anyone else who believes they were assaulted by Kimes to contact the district attorney’s office or the Suffolk County Police Department’s Seventh Precinct. Victims' identities, he said, would be kept confidential. 

“We can connect them with victim services to help in these difficult times,” Sini said. “Let's use this horrific crime as an opportunity to tell victims throughout Suffolk County that you are not alone.” 

Sini said prosecutors “are in awe of this victim’s courage.”

“We will do everything in our power to help the victim through these difficult circumstances,” Sini said.

Hauppauge school district Superintendent Dennis O’Hara said in a statement that Kimes had been reassigned and ordered not to appear on district property while the case proceeds. He declined to discuss Kimes’ tenure with the school district or say if Kimes would be paid while the charges were pending, calling it a personnel matter. 

“We will closely monitor this matter and continue to cooperate with the police in their investigation,” O’Hara said. “Be assured that the health and safety of our students are always our first priority. “

A spokesman for the New York Army National Guard declined to comment on Kimes’ indictment. 

Kimes  joined the New York Army National Guard in 1985 and had a decorated 34-year career in the service. He obtained the Bronze Star, two Army Commendation medals, a Meritorious Service medal and the National Defense Service Ribbon, a National Guard official told Newsday earlier this month. Kimes currently has the rank of chief warrant officer 4 and serves as commander of the 42nd Infantry Division Band.

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