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Ex-Bethpage High teacher accused of sexual contact with student on school trip

Joseph A. Gallagher, 28, of Smithtown, a former

Joseph A. Gallagher, 28, of Smithtown, a former Bethpage High School teacher, seen in a photo released by the Nassau County Police Department in June. Credit: NCPD

A former Bethpage High School teacher facing charges in Nassau County for allegedly having sexual contact with a student now faces similar charges involving a student during a class trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania, police said.

Swatara Township police said Joseph A. Gallagher, 28, of Smithtown, was arrested Sept. 27 and charged with institutional sexual assault and five additional charges. Police and court records said the alleged incidents took place at the Sheraton Hotel in Harrisburg between May 17 and 18.

Gallagher is scheduled for arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Richard A. Lewis in the Court of Common Pleas, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 8.

According to the news release posted on the Township police website: "On June 14th, 2019, it was reported to Swatara Township Police that between May 17th and 18th Joseph A. Gallagher, a teacher from New York, had sexual relations with a juvenile at a hotel in Swatara Township while on a school trip to Hershey."

Records show Gallagher was represented by an attorney from Harrisburg, though it was not immediately clear if he is still represented by that counsel. Gallagher was released on unsecured $50,000 bond.

Gallagher, whose Long Island attorney told Newsday in June that his client is married with a young child, is charged in Pennsylvania with intercourse/sexual contact with a student, unlawful contact with a minor, disseminating explicit sexual material to a minor, unlawful contact with a minor related to obscene and other sexual materials and performances, corruption of minors and criminal use of a communication facility.

Court records show Gallagher is scheduled to appear in First District Court in Nassau on Friday, charged with two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and with acting in a manner injurious to a child after being arrested by Nassau County police on June 19.

Police said Gallagher, who was fired from his job as a choir teacher at Bethpage on June 22, was arrested by Nassau Special Victims Squad detectives after authorities said the district was notified of the alleged incident — and contacted police.

Records show Gallagher was arraigned on June 19 and released on $7,500 cash bail. A temporary order of protection also was issued.

Attorney Bruce Barkett of Garden City, who represented Gallagher at his arraignment in Nassau, said of his client in June: "He's a good young man from a good family" and said he would "vigorously defend the allegations in court."

Neither of Gallagher's two attorneys were available for comment Monday.

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