Thursday, July 30, 2009

Teacher Danial Rothbard Arrested for Sexual Assault on 15-year-old

An elementary school math teacher and longtime camp counselor was arrested on July 21 and charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, police said.

Daniel Rothbard, 28, of Merrick, was found in a car with the girl in the parking lot of Westbrook Elementary School in West Islip at 8:25 p.m. last Tuesday, and was arrested. Aside from being a camp counselor in East Rockaway, Rothbard teaches at Willow Road School in Franklin Square.

Detective Lt. Matt Sullivan of Suffolk County’s 3rd Precinct said Rothbard was “in a partial state of undress” at the time of the arrest. Sullivan did not say whether the girl was unclothed as well, but he did say the two were not having sex when they were discovered by a patrol officer.

Investigators learned that Rothbard, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 1999, met the girl through MySpace, and that in online conversations in which he used the name “DJ” or “D to the J,” he told her he was 17. Sullivan said that investigators are trying to determine whether he used the Internet to meet other underage girls.

Rothbard was charged with two felonies, third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act; and two misdemeanors, third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip on July 22, according to his attorney, Todd Greenberg, and was released after $5,000 bail was posted in cash later that day.

Rothbard, who is married, has been a teacher in Valley Stream District 13 for the past four years. He has worked as a math specialist at the James A. Dever School in Valley Stream and, most recently, at Willow Road School in Franklin Square. He earned tenure in the district in 2008.

In a written statement, District 13 Superintendent Elizabeth Lison said, “The district is currently consulting with its legal counsel regarding this teacher’s employment status.” Lison also noted that Rothbard had undergone a background check before he was hired, and had no criminal record. She described the arrest as “an incident unrelated to his employment with the district.”

Rothbard was also employed for 16 years at Rolling River Day Camp in East Rockaway as a counselor, and then as an assistant supervisor. In a letter to parents, camp directors Rhonda and Mark Goodman wrote that his “employment has been terminated,” adding, “We have no reason to believe he engaged in similar behavior with anyone at camp.” But the letter urged parents to ask children about any inappropriate activity they may have experienced.

Mark Goodman said that Rothbard’s younger brother, Eric, works at Rolling River, as he has for “a lot of years.” Goodman could not confirm whether Rothbard’s wife, who is also a camp employee, would be returning to Rolling River, but said, “She’s taking a few days.”

“We know him as a very decent young man,” Greenberg said, “and we look forward to resolving this case.”

If convicted, Rothbard faces 16 months to four years in prison and the loss of his teaching license. Section 10.55 of New York State Education Law empowers the commissioner of education to revoke the certificate of a teacher convicted of a sex crime.

Rothbard is due back in court on Sept. 22.

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