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Long IslandCrime

Oakdale karate teacher inappropriately touched student, police say

Michael Carretto of Ronkonkoma is escorted from the

Michael Carretto of Ronkonkoma is escorted from the Seventh Precinct in Shirley for arraignment on Friday morning. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

A karate teacher in Oakdale has been arrested and charged in the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old student last month, police said. 

Michael Carretto, 26, was teaching at Dragon’s Gate Martial Arts Academy on the Sunrise Highway South Service Road when he inappropriately touched the female student on Sept. 11, at an undisclosed location off the karate school grounds, Suffolk County police said Friday. 

Special Victims Section detectives arrested Carretto at the Seventh Precinct in Shirley on Thursday night after he went there to be questioned, police said. 

Carretto, of Locust Boulevard, Ronkonkoma, was charged with third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, police said.

He was held overnight and arraigned Friday at First District Court in Central Islip, where a temporary order of protection was issued and he was ordered held on $3,500 bond, or $1,500 cash bail. He was represented by Legal Aid, which generally does not comment on cases.

In a statement issued through his lawyer, Dragon's Gate owner Michael Iannone said he and staff members "are appalled and concerned by the allegations" against Carretto, who was "a former instructor at the time of his arrest."

Iannone said the alleged incident did not happen at the karate school.

"The safety and well-being of the students is paramount and there have always been video cameras to help ensure the protection of the students," Iannone said through his Hauppauge attorney Donald Mates.

The owner and staff "have been fully cooperative" with Suffolk police, the statement said. 

Carretto also works as a teaching assistant in a special education program for the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Smithtown and has been suspended without pay from that job, a spokeswoman said. The nonprofit serves children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

"This allegation is of great concern to DDI as our most important priority is the safety and well-being of the children and adults we support," spokeswoman  Christine Ponzio said in a statement. "Mr. Carretto was immediately suspended from his position once his arrest was made known and his access to all of our buildings has been rescinded."

A background check before he was hired in February had "no negative findings," she said. The nonprofit will cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation.

Police said they have no reason to believe there are other victims, but detectives asked anyone who might have been a victim to contact the Special Victims Section at 631-852-6531.

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