A longtime Ward Melville High School science teacher charged with sexual abuse of a female student groped the teen while in an off-campus shopping center parking lot in Rocky Point, court papers say.
Those records indicate the alleged incident leading to Monday's arrest of tenured teacher Stephen Malusa, 47, took place about 3:30 p.m. on or about May 1 in the lot on Route 25A. The accuser was 15 years old at the time and "incapable of consent" because she was under 17, according to the criminal complaint.
Malusa, of Seminole Street in Selden, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors. He was represented at his arraignment by an attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County. The society declined to comment.
A day after Malusa was arrested by Suffolk County police special victims detectives, he was arraigned Tuesday at First District Court in Central Islip and ordered held on $45,000 bond or $15,000 cash bail. Suffolk jail officials said Malusa did not post bail and is being held in Riverhead.
Meanwhile, Three Village School District officials said guidance counselors and social workers were made available as needed Wednesday in support of students and staff in the district.
Malusa has been employed with the district since September 2002 and also coached the East Setauket school's Science Olympiad team, school officials said.
Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich said in a prepared statement Tuesday that Malusa would not work with students until the case is resolved. A district spokeswoman said Wednesday that Malusa has been "reassigned to home with pay" pending the criminal investigation.
Pedisich said in the statement that the district notified police when it learned of the accusations. "The district is disturbed by these allegations," she said in that statement.
"The teacher was permanently cleared through the state's fingerprint background check, and, to the best of the district's knowledge, has no criminal record," the statement said.
Police declined to say when the student made the accusation about Malusa.
Since 2006, Malusa has served as coach of Ward Melville's Science Olympiad team, which finished fifth among high schools nationally last year and has gone to the national tournament every year since 2009. This year, the team took first place in Suffolk County's regional tournament in February but was disqualified from the state level after the school failed to submit a $150 registration check on time.
Malusa and other Ward Melville officials attributed the late payment to snow days that backlogged the work of a district auditor who reviews outgoing checks. The Science Olympiad's state director exacerbated the problem by calling a retired Ward Melville coach who was away on vacation -- instead of Malusa -- before the deadline to remind the district its payment hadn't yet arrived, school officials said.
The district Wednesday issued a statement saying it is securing "a certified substitute who will work with the science department chair in order to ensure the continuity of instruction for Mr. Malusa's classes."
With Michael Ebert
and Candice Ruud