Former Hilton principal, convicted of inappropriately touching students, got thousands in separation agreement
HILTON, N.Y. Former Hilton School Principal Kirk Ashton was sentenced to 63 years in prison Thursday morning after being convicted of sexually assaulting more than two dozen of his young students.
News10NBC was there in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. Ashton didn’t appear to show any emotion, but a few parents briefly cheered as he was led back to jail.
“We have to send our kids to school,” said Assistant District Attorney Sara Van Strydonck. “We have to trust that they’re safe.”
She spoke to us minutes after Ashton, the former Principal at Northwood Elementary School in Hilton, was sentenced to 63 years behind bars. Last month Ashton was convicted of sexually assaulting over 20 students over seven years. The case came to light after one student came forward.
“He came in here with the courage of a giant, and he told what happened to him,” said Van Strydonck. “He did it from the beginning, and his parents had the fortitude and the courage to believe him and speak out against this giant of a man, the principal of the school. They believed their son, they listened to their son, and they did something about it.”
Before he was sentenced, parents read their victim impact statements. Many of them blamed Ashton for not only victimizing their children but preying on them when they were so vulnerable. Ashton was then sentenced to 63 years, but he will only spend 20 years behind bars.
“There is a law in New York State that someone that’s convicted of ‘D’ and ‘E’ felonies, no matter how many the cap will be 20,” said Van Strydonck. “That’s just something automatic that the department of corrections does. It has nothing to do with Judge Renzi or anything like that.”
The Bivona Child Advocacy Center played a huge role in the investigation, which helped lead to Ashton’s conviction. Workers had taught a program on Child Body Safety in Hilton, after which students came forward about Ashton.
“Justice is just one step in the healing process,” said Dr. Daniele Lyman-Torres, CEO of Bivona. “This is something that is a lifelong recovery. People are survivors, and these children are survivors, and they will be living with this for the rest of their lives as well their families, and they’ll deal with it at different phases of their lives.”
Hilton Central School District sent News10NBC a written statement saying, “Today’s sentencing is another step in our collective road to recovery. Nothing can undo the pain inflicted on our children, their families, and our school community, but we are grateful to prosecutors and the court for ensuring that this individual cannot harm anyone else.”
You can read the full separation agreement here:
Mark Hilburger, president of the Hilton Central School District Board of Education, released the following statement Nov. 2: