Babylon High School teacher Timothy Harrison leaves Suffolk County Court...

Babylon High School teacher Timothy Harrison leaves Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in March 2022. Credit: James Carbone

A longtime Babylon High School teacher and coach pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child for engaging in sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old student in 2013, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office reported Friday.

Timothy Harrison, 48, of Oak Beach, is due back in court for sentencing Nov. 9. As part of Friday's plea before County Court Judge Karen M. Wilutis, Harrison was also required to surrender his teaching license, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney.

The investigation and Harrison’s plea revealed that between September and November 2013, Harrison sent the victim, who was 15 at the time, flirtatious text messages, gave her alcohol and had sexual intercourse and other sexual conduct with her at his residence in Oak Beach, according to Tierney.

“This defendant abused his role as an educator and preyed on a teenaged student. Instead of being a teacher, he took advantage of her,” Tierney said. “This guilty plea ensures that Harrison will no longer be a teacher." 

Harrison, a former basketball and lacrosse coach at Babylon Junior-Senior High School, did not have a criminal record. He was arrested March 3, 2022, after a monthslong police investigation.

He was later 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 four years in prison. He had pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in March 2022.

Harrison's attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, said Friday: “Mr. Harrison was charged with several felony counts which we were eagerly prepared to defend at his upcoming trial. The district attorney offered a single misdemeanor to resolve the case, a path Mr. Harrison accepted to put this matter behind him for the good of his family.”

The district had placed Harrison on leave in the fall of 2021.

"This administration is making every effort to ensure the safety of our students and earn back the trust of the community," Schools Superintendent Carisa Manza and Board of Education President Linda Jurs said in a joint statement. "We have pursued all avenues available to us to attain justice for alleged victims of abuse in our schools, including notifying law enforcement in this particular case."

They said confidentiality laws prevent the district from commenting in detail on individual employees. "However, we unequivocally condemn the crimes that the accused Babylon employee has pleaded guilty to," the statement said, also stressing the employee surrendered his teaching license.

Harrison was certified as a special education teacher in 2002. According to a Newsday database of public salaries, he made $148,333 in 2021-22. While on home assignment, Harrison received $140,755 during the 2022-23 school year, according to district payroll records Newsday obtained under the Freedom of Information Law.

A spokesperson for the district attorney's office said Friday that Harrison was suspended with pay pending the investigation, and when he pleaded guilty he surrendered his license.

In 2021, the victim came forward and reported the sexual abuse to Babylon High School officials and then to the Suffolk County Police Department’s Special Victim Section. Harrison was removed from the classroom in November 2021, according to district records obtained by Newsday.

“The courage shown by this young woman in reporting this crime even though it had occurred eight years earlier is amazing,” Tierney said.

Earlier this year, Wilutis agreed with prosecutors to allow testimony had the case gone to trial about an alleged prior sexual relationship between Harrison and another student in 2012. Prosecutors have previously said Harrison had a sexual relationship with the 18-year-old student, but no charges were filed since she was above the age of consent.

Harrison’s indictment also followed October 2021 allegations made by former students who said they were sexually harassed and abused by some of their teachers in the Babylon district.

Soon after, the district hired a former Suffolk County prosecutor, Chris Powers, to investigate the claims and placed five employees, including Harrison, on paid administrative leave.

In November, 2021, State Attorney General Letitia James announced a civil investigation into the Babylon school district after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct by staff. That investigation continues, a spokesperson said Friday.

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