An elementary school art teacher in Long Island has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a student and police believe there may be additional victims.
According to the authorities, 51-year-old John Joseph Finnegan sexually abused a 10-year-old girl on January 3 during an after-school program at Jackson Annex Elementary School in Hempstead, where Finnegan is a teacher.
While investigating this case, authorities discovered two more cases involving an additional two alleged victims they believe were targeted by Finnegan for sexual abuse during after-school programs. Specific details of these allegations have been ordered sealed by the judge, but prosecutors say that these two other children witnessed the alleged abuse.
Finnegan has been charged with sexual abuse and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was arraigned and ordered held on $20,000 bail.
Finnegan taught in the district for 23 years, which is why police are worried there could be additional victims. They have asked anyone who believes that their child may have been victimized and anyone else with related information to contact the Special Victims Squat at (516) 573-4022 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.
Attorney Laurence Banville helps sexual abuse survivors and their families find justice through civil lawsuits. Here are some of Laurence's thoughts regarding the legal options available to those who have been abused by teachers, coaches, and other school employees:
The safety of our students is just as important as the quality of their education. Our schools must do all in their power to ensure that their students are free from foreseeable dangers, including the threat of sexual predators. Sadly, schools and other fields that involve working with kids often attract these sexual predators. This is why it’s crucial for schools to take preventative measures to ensure that no one dangerous is permitted to work or volunteer at the school. Additionally, any suspected abuse by a school employee must be reported to law enforcement immediately.
In some cases of sexual abuse by school employees, the school district is partially to blame for enabling the abuse to occur through negligence. For example, a district might be considered negligent if they failed to run a background check before hiring a new employee who had a history of sexual abuse or for failing to report suspected sexual abuse to law enforcement.
If you or your child is a survivor of sexual abuse by a school employee, we understand how painful this time is for your family and we want to help you find justice. To learn more about your family’s legal options, consider contacting one of our experienced sexual assault survivors attorneys for a free consultation.