A sign at the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch in Riverhead.

A sign at the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch in Riverhead. Credit: Joseph Sperber

A 51-year-old Timothy Hill Children's Ranch employee was arrested and charged with rape, criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child after a "lengthy" police investigation determined he was involved in a "consensual" sexual relationship with a 16-year-girl who was a resident of the Riverhead center for troubled and at-risk youth, police said.

The legal age of consent in New York State is 17.

Riverhead Town police said detectives determined the employee, identified as Maunul Roias, and the girl — whose identity was not released because of her age and because she is the victim of an alleged sex crime — were having "consensual sexual intercourse."

Police said the interactions took place over months beginning in March, and the two were involved on and off campus.

According to its website, the Timothy Hill Ranch on Middle Road in Riverhead is "a residential facility for young people (ages 10-24) that have been abused, neglected and/or are in crisis." The ranch first opened in November 1980 and, according to its website, it has since been "a safe haven" for hundreds of at-risk children and young adults.

"Our mission," the website said, "is to strengthen character by modeling Christ-centered values and to transform lives through love."

Police did not immediately detail who reported the incident, sparking the investigation, but in a statement provided by a spokesman for Timothy Hill Ranch, the facility said that "immediately upon learning about the allegations on August 15, we followed our state mandated procedures and made a report to the Justice Center on the same day." A spokesman for the ranch later clarified the statement, saying the situation was brought to the attention of the staff by "another resident."

The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs is a state agency that was created in 2013 "to restore public trust in the institutions and individuals charged with caring for vulnerable populations by protecting the health, safety, and dignity of all people with special needs," according to its website. According to the Timothy Hill Ranch, the Justice Center began an investigation shortly after the ranch made its report and then an "intensive, several week-long police investigation took place."

"We take the health, wellbeing and safety of those who are in our programs seriously," Timothy Hill Ranch said via the statement. "Recent allegations involving a staff member and a resident are very disturbing and troubling. The resident involved has been taken to another facility and is receiving care and counseling. When management was made aware of the allegations the staff member was immediately reassigned and later suspended."

The ranch said Roias had been employed there for 10 years and said he had been "cleared" by both state and county agencies to "work with youth."

The ranch also said the incident had prompted them to review all of their procedures and practices.

Roias was charged with two counts of third-degree rape, two counts of third-degree criminal sexual act and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He faces arraignment at the Riverhead Justice Court.

It was not immediately clear Friday if he is represented by counsel.

Police are asking witnesses and other possible victims to contact investigators at 631-727-4500. All calls will remain confidential. 

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