N.Y. elementary school principal accused of sexually abusing students
GREECE, N.Y. (WHAM) - A longtime principal at a New York elementary school is in jail after being charged with sexually abusing boys at the school.
Kirk Ashton was charged with endangering the welfare of a child, sexual abuse and sexual conduct. He was the principal at Northwood Elementary for 17 years.
A tip to the New York State Child Abuse Hotline on March 26, the last day of school before spring break, instigated an intense investigation and the victim, along with eight others, were identified.
The victims range from 8 to 12 years old.
The initial tip came days after a school program that taught the elementary school students about body safety. Sara Van Strydonk, the assistant district attorney for Monroe County, believes this education program led to the alleged abuse coming to light.
“I feel strongly that we would not be here right now if not for the educational program,” Strydonk said.
Parents of two families, who say their children are part of the investigation, said Ashton invited male students into his office to have lunch with him.
“This particular crime is almost unthinkable. Using his position of power and authority, this predator preyed on these little boys,” Greece Police Chief Drew Forsythe said. “This guy, who is charged with guiding, mentoring and protecting children, used their innocence and trust to violate them.”
For five of the nine victims, it’s alleged the conduct occurred repeatedly over at least three months.
The investigation is now stretching back to Ashton’s arrival as principal at the school.
“Based on other investigations we’ve had over the years, we’d probably guess it’s gone back that far,” Maj. Barry Chase with the New York State Police. “We don’t know that for a fact at this point. Obviously, we’re going to look into that.”
The school district says it is cooperating fully with state police and is formulating a crisis plan to support families and staff.
“There’s a lot more to do with this investigation,” Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Dooley said. “And if any parent is listening right now, have a conversation with your child. There could be more victims out there.”
Meanwhile, Ashton is being held in the county jail on a $2.5 million bond.
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