A New York middle school teacher has been charged with rape after allegedly having an “inappropriate sexual relationship” with a teenage former student, police said.
Thomas Barton, 54, was arrested Friday at his home in Medford, Long Island, after investigators learned he was allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old girl, Suffolk County police said.
It was not immediately clear how investigators learned of the alleged relationship, but prosecutors told News 12 Barton and the girl began having contact when she was 15.
By the time the girl turned 16, she and Barton were having sexual intercourse and oral sex, prosecutors said.
Barton has apparently worked for the Brentwood School District for three decades. He taught physical education and served as a wrestling coach at Brentwood North Middle School, authorities said.
Online records showed he made $146,202 at Brentwood Union Free Schools in 2018, and is listed as also having made $57,359 last year at Dundee Central Schools.
He was “administratively reassigned” from his position and was barred from school grounds following his arrest, Brentwood Schools Superintendent Richard Loeschner told Newsday.
"The safety of our students is our top priority," he said.
Barton was charged with rape in the third degree, a criminal sex act in the third degree and endangering the welfare of a child.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him at his arraignment Saturday and was ordered held on $40,000 cash bail, or $20,000 bond. An order of protection prohibiting Barton from having contact with the victim was also issued. He is due in court on Thursday.
Police noted the investigation into the case is ongoing, and said there may be more victims. Anyone with information in this case is asked to contact the Suffolk County Police’s Special Victims Section at 631-852-6531. Calls will be answered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to midnight.