A Locust Valley teacher apparently had inappropriate sexual contact with at least 14 elementary school students, according to the Nassau County District Attorney's office.
John E. Benstock was indicted by a grand jury on 31 counts of inappropriate sexual contact with 14 children, all under the age of 11 years old, said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Benstock, 47, of Laurel Place in Bayville, was arraigned Wednesday and charged with 15 felony counts of sexual contact against a child, two felony counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, and 14 misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child, Rice said.
Benstock — who was initially arrested on May 9 on misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of a child — faces up to seven years in prison for each felony count, Rice said. He is due back in court on July 15.
Prior to 2000, Benstock worked at Valley Stream UFSD #24, Lawrence, Bay Shore and Rockville Centre schools and All Saints Regional Catholic School, according to Locust Valley Superintendent Anna F. Hunderfund.
The accusations against Benstock begin as early as 2000, when he began working at the district, Rice said.
Rice said that innapropriate contact was reported during during orchestra classes at two Locust Valley elementary schools as well as private lessons at the students' homes.
While the Locust Valley School District reassigned Benstock to home with pay following the initial misdemeanor charges, Rice said more victims — who have not been identified — came forward following his arrest.
Lawrence Superintendent Gary Schall declined comment.
Hunderfund said that the safety and well-being of students and staff is the district's top priority.
"Mr. Benstock has been reassigned to his home, pending the outcome of investigations by the police and the district," Hunderfund said in May in a statement on the district's website. "Mr. Benstock has been directed to not have any communication or contact with any student of the Locust Valley Central School District whom he currently teaches or whom he has taught in the past"
Rice encourages anyone with information regarding additional victims to contact the Nassau County Police Department Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022.
“Parents trusted this defendant to teach their children music, but he abused these innocent kids for his own sick pleasure,” Rice said. “My office will aggressively prosecute this case to make sure this defendant never puts another child at risk again.”
Patch will update this story as more information becomes available.