A principal at a New York public school was arrested Wednesday following accusations that he sexually abused nine young boys, possibly over the course of decades, police said.
Kirk Ashton, the principal of Northwood Elementary School, part of the Hilton Central School District, allegedly sexually abused nine boys between the ages of nine and 12 when they were students at the school, 13WHAM ABC reported. Ashton was a principal at the school for 17 years, and police believe the abuse could have spanned “not just years but decades.”
On @News_8 at 11: Principal of Northwood Elementary School in Hilton taken to jail after being accused of sexually abusing 9 students. Kirk Ashton’s alleged crimes date back years. pic.twitter.com/aCcoyuoSeI
— Maureen McGuire (@MaureenMcGuire8) April 15, 2021
Ashton was reportedly placed on leave a week prior to his arrest “pending an investigation.” He faces nine counts of endangering the welfare of a child, six counts of first-degree sexual abuse, and five counts of second-degree course of sexual conduct, according to a statement by the New York State Police.
He pleaded not guilty and was held on $500,000 bail or a $2.5 million bond, according to ABC.
Investigators say the alleged abuse happened at the school. Restraining orders were issued for eight victims. One parent declined an order of protection.
The district’s superintendent Casey Kosiorek informed parents of the charges against Ashton, and said school officials were “cooperating fully with the State Police,” according to CBS 17. He added that a crisis team and counselors were working with students and staff.
“Our primary concern is for our students,” Kosiorek said.
Police are continuing to investigate and say it’s possible there are more victims, ABC reported.
VIDEO: @GreecePoliceNY Chief Drew Forsythe about Hilton elementary school principal Kirk Ashton: “This guy?…myself, members of this police department, members of this community – we dropped our children off to him.”
— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) April 15, 2021
“It’s upsetting as a parent and I think the community is hurting right now as they should be and hopefully at the end of this when we release more information, at least some lessons can be learned,” Van Strydonck added.
Across the country, numerous teachers and other school employees have been arrested on sex-offense-related charges, often targeting minors, in March and April. (RELATED: Teacher Stashed Condom In Shoe, Paid $200 To Molest 2-Year-Old Girl)
Days before Ashton’s arrest, an elementary school teacher in Dallas was charged with possession of child pornography after police say they found numerous images showing an adult male engaging in sexual intercourse with children as young as three. Before the arrest in Dallas, a New York City public school teacher was arrested on charges that he raped a teenager in 2017.
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