Chicopee High school teacher pleads not guilty on sex charges www.privateofficer.com
CHICOPEE MA May 28 2011 – A 15-year-old student at Chicopee High School told police that she had sexual intercourse with teacher Donald Cushing “three or four times” this spring in his classroom closet, according to court documents.
The relationship between the 59-year-old special education math teacher and the girl began in April when they exchanged cell phone numbers and rapidly intensified from there, according to the application for a complaint filed by Chicopee police detective David M. Nardi. Officials have said the girl was not Cushing’s student.
The bearded teacher, handcuffed and shackled, denied four counts of statutory rape and two counts of disseminating obscene matter to a minor Friday in District Court. Judge Bethzaida Sanabria-Vega ordered Cushing to be held in lieu of $150,000 cash bail.
Cushing, of 645 James St., was removed from class Tuesday morning and questioned by police and school officials. He was verbally suspended later that day, School Superintendent Richard W. Rege Jr. said.
At a press conference held Friday afternoon, Chicopee Mayor Michael D. Bissonnette, Rege and Chicopee Police Chief John R. Ferraro said that the city is moving to terminate Cushing’s employment and to get his teaching certificate in Massachusetts revoked.
“He will never teach in Chicopee again, and if we have our way he will never teach in Massachusetts or anywhere in the country again,” Bissonnette said.
A Chicopee High math teacher is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl.
The girl told police that after the cell phone number exchange, she began calling or texting Cushing every day, according to the complaint.
Cushing routinely responded with text messages and calls of his own, she said.
In April and into May the girl told police that “things got very serious” and that they had sexual intercourse on the floor of the closet “three or four times,” the complaint states.
The girl later told police that Cushing texted images of his genitalia to her in March and then May.
A family member approached Chicopee High School Principal Roland R. Joyal Jr. last week when she discovered a number of text messages from the teacher on the girl’s phone.
The texts were not sexual but the family member felt there were a lot of them and was uncomfortable with the teacher texting the student, Rege said.
Cushing was told at that point to “cease and desist,” Rege said during the press conference, which satisfied the family member.
On Tuesday the family member found text messages of a sexual nature and she again met with Joyal, who in turn contacted School Resource Officer John Jusino, officials said.
Jusino then conducted a videotaped interview with Cushing, who admitted sending sexual images from his cell phone to the girl, according to the complaint.
Bissonnette, Ferarro and Rege said they were pleased with the city’s quick response once the nature of the teacher and student’s relationship was brought to light.
“I am very proud of my staff at Chicopee High School,” said Rege, adding that “the investigation was done fairly, expediently and thorough … Certainly students’ safety and security are always the focus of everything that we do and we moved very swiftly to separate him from the student body.”
Bissonnette said the action taken by school and police personnel “reflects our zero tolerance policy for this types of incident.”
Rege said that the department conducts annual background checks on its teachers and Cushing’s most recent check, done in October through the state Criminal Record Offender Record Information Law, “was absolutely clean.”
Sanabria-Vega set Cushing’s next court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, for June 10.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Fitzgerald told the judge that she and lawyer Robert Rzeszutek, who represented Cushing during the arraignment, had agreed on bail.
The judge told Cushing if he were to make bail, he would be required to stay away from the girl, not have any unsupervised visits with anybody under 18 and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.