Thursday, June 11, 2009

School Librarian Richard Condon Charged with Inappropriately Touching 4 Male Students

A Stuyvesant High School librarian has been arrested and charged with harassment and sexual abuse, after he was accused of inappropriately touching four male students, city investigators said on Thursday.

A report by the special commissioner of investigation, Richard J. Condon, said that the librarian, R. Christopher Asch, 56, who was also an adviser to the school’s quiz bowl team, gave massages to several boys while on duty in the school’s library.

The boys objected to Mr. Asch’s advances, but he continued to touch them, the report said. At one point, he grabbed a student’s leg and massaged it, and in another case, he ran his fingers through one boy’s hair while the student was studying, the report said.

Mr. Asch was expected to be arraigned Thursday afternoon and charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of second-degree harassment.

Mr. Asch’s lawyer, Donald Vogelman, said Mr. Asch intended to plead not guilty. “Mr. Asch denies any improper behavior involving students,” Mr. Vogelman said.

Mr. Asch was reassigned to a teacher detention center after investigators issued the report substantiating the charges in May 2008. The Department of Education is moving to fire him.

Investigators have also substantiated a separate complaint that Mr. Asch took seven students on an unauthorized trip to Harvard to participate in a quiz bowl competition, according to Mr. Condon’s report. Stuyvesant officials did not approve the trip, and the parents of one student objected to sending their child, the report said.

The students said in the report that the inappropriate contact occurred from September 2004 through February 2008, when Mr. Asch grabbed the leg of a boy, the report said. The four boys decided to report Mr. Asch to school officials after that episode.

Mr. Asch was also the faculty adviser to the Republican club and several other student groups, and the coach of the cricket team, according to the student newspaper, The Spectator.

Mr. Asch started working in city schools in 1989 and spent most of his career as a high school librarian. He came to Stuyvesant in 2002, according to the Department of Education, and his annual salary is $86,590.

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