Bail for Hilton principal accused of sexually abusing students lowered to $175K

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GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Northwood Elementary School principal accused of sexually abusing 26 students throughout his career had his bail reduced Friday to $175,000 cash.

If Kirk Ashton is able to post the bail, he would be monitored at home electronically. His attorney said there is an apartment lined up for him.

Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Amanda Balling also requested that Ashton surrender his passport.

Ashton’s bail was originally set at $500,000 cash. It was reduced to $350,000 cash, then to $250,000 over the course of four previous bail reduction requests. Friday was his fifth.

Under the NYS Criminal Justice Reform Act, defendants can file as many bail reduction requests as they want.

Ashton’s new attorney, Jason Housel, requested $20,000 cash bail for Ashton.

Housel pointed to the fact that Ashton is being held in Niagara County and was transported to be in court on Friday, saying it’s an impediment to his client’s ability to meet with him.

He also said Ashton has $600,000 in a retirement account that Ashton can’t access because his wife has filed for divorce, and those funds are considered marital property, so they will remain frozen during the divorce proceedings.

"We had made a request as to a lesser amount," Housel said. "We indicated to the court what he had available to him. We were fine with other means, such as an ankle bracelet, monitoring and things of that nature, where they put an ankle bracelet on. So we had presided that under the statute, the reform, this is what he has available to pay."

Monroe County Judge Karen Bailey Turner did say she’d be willing to move an order to transport Ashton to the Monroe County Jail if it would help with preparation for trial.

Balling argued that Ashton is still making $160,000 per year, as he’s on administrative leave from the Hilton Central School District.

"Regarding Mr. Ashton’s significant financial wealth — he makes $160,000 a year — still — to this day he’s being paid by the Hilton school district $160,000 a year," Balling said. He has significant assets and we believe he is a significant flight risk."

Balling also pointed to Ashton’s two previous DWI convictions, and to the fact that he has a sister who lives in the Boston area.

Balling said she believes that if Ashton’s bail is reduced, it should be to $175,000, which was the amount requested in his fourth bail reduction application.

Balling said there are 26 victims total in two indictments against Ashton.

Two federal lawsuits were also filed against Ashton, alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse.

Ashton has been incarcerated since April 14.

He has been on administrative leave since April 8. He is not allowed to report to Northwood for any reason.