Geneva Middle School principal accused of having inappropriate encounter with child
GENEVA, N.Y. (WHEC) — The principal of Geneva Middle School is facing charges of endangering the welfare of a child after police say he had an inappropriate encounter with a child younger than seventeen.
The district says John L. DeFazio Jr. was immediately put on leave when the Geneva Police Department alerted them of the allegations last Friday.
Police say the incident happened on or about Oct. 5, 2021, at Geneva Middle School.
DeFazio was arraigned Tuesday night on the charges and released on his own recognizance.
The police department is asking anyone who may have had inappropriate encounters with the 48-year-old to contact Detective Matthew Colton at 315-828-6779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who need help talking to their children can contact the Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes at 585-394-2573.
The district says Director of Athletics and Strategic Initiatives Tricia Budgar was made acting principal of Geneva Middle School on Friday.
According to Geneva Police, DeFazio walked into the school’s suspension room, sat down next to a seventh-grade girl and poked her in the middle of the chest with his finger.
The charge of endangering the welfare of a child specifically applies to someone older than 12 and younger than 17.
Ontario County District Attorney James Ritts said, as a parent, this kind of situation is especially disturbing because of the power and trust a principal has.
"This is an ongoing investigation," Ritts said. "So, to assume we are at our terminus is probably not appropriate. We are going to look closely at what was going on and, if there’s anyone out there, they should be contacting Detective Colton Geneva Police Department.
Do you think there could be more victims? Look, he’s in a school. These are allegations that occurred in the school. So, the potential is there."
If convicted, DeFazio could be sentenced to up to one year behind bars.