John O'Mard, the principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School, was...

John O'Mard, the principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School, was charged with four counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, police said. (March 20, 2013) Credit: NCPD; Howard Schnapp

The principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport was arrested early Wednesday and charged with having sex with a 16-year-old graduate of the school after the two met on a dating website.

If convicted of four counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, John O'Mard, 44, faces up to four years in prison.

O'Mard pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday. Judge Eric Bjorneby set bail at $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash.

O'Mard's attorney, Edward Jenks of Mineola, called his client "a paragon of hope and light to the students" in the Freeport school district.

"We will do a full investigation to determine what the facts are," Jenks said.

Det. Sgt. Carlo Maltempi of the Nassau Police Special Victims Squad said O'Mard met the student on They chatted for about a week before they met last Sept. 22 and went to O'Mard's Freeport home, where they engaged in sex acts, Maltempi said.

The teen told police he didn't recognize O'Mard at first, but remembered him as his former principal later that evening, Maltempi said.

At the arraignment, prosecutor Robert Cavallo said the teen was "begging the defendant to stop" and that O'Mard only did so when the 16-year-old yelled.

As a minor, the teen could not legally consent to having sex, Cavallo said. Maltempi said alcohol was not involved, and the victim did not lie about his age.

School officials learned of the alleged incident this month from a friend of the victim. The victim had told the friend about the encounter months earlier, Maltempi said.

Jenks said O'Mard, who has served as principal for "about a decade," was asked not to come to school Friday pending an investigation.

Cavallo said in court O'Mard was convicted of petty larceny in 1987 and fourth-degree grand larceny in 1990, a crime for which he served a year in jail.

Superintendent Kishore Kuncham said in a statement Wednesday that O'Mard has been "administratively reassigned" pending the outcome of the investigation.

"The district's commitment to the safety and well-being of our students and staff is our No. 1 priority and the district will continue to cooperate with law enforcement during their investigation," Kuncham said.

The district said former assistant principal Robert Micucci, who retired in 2011, has been named interim principal. O'Mard's salary was $171,044 in 2010-11, records show.

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