CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An assistant principal at a Suffolk County high school accused of sending racy text messages to students and faculty has pleaded not guilty.
Craig Cohen, 47, assistant principal at Wyandanch Memorial High School in Wyandanch, was arraigned Tuesday at Suffolk County First District Court in Central Islip.
Cohen stood handcuffed and with his head down as he entered a not guilty plea, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Police said Cohen sent several inappropriate text messages, some of which were sexual in nature, to two students and one faculty member at the school, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Cohen was able to get the students’ phone numbers by physically taking their cell phones from their hands and calling his own phone number, Gusoff reported.
He then sent them text messages with sexual innuendo and also asked them to come to his office, Gusoff reported.
In one text message, police said Cohen talked about his own sexual arousal, Gusoff reported.
“They were disturbing and, in some cases, intimidating to the students,” Suffolk County Police Inspector Gerard Gigante said.
As Gusoff reported, in one instance, Cohen allegedly sent a message that read “This is your new text lover.”
“She said she felt creepy and was terrified to go back to school and face him,” Gigante said.
Police said Cohen had several different cell phones that he used and in that way the faculty member and students did not know that the messages were coming from him, Gusoff reported.
According to prosecutors, Cohen admitted to the crime, Hall reported.
Cohen, who has worked at the high school for about eight years, was arrested Monday morning as he left his Northport home.
He has been ordered to stay away from the alleged victims, Hall reported.
He was charged with three counts of second-degree aggravated harassment, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.
Co-workers who came to bail him out refused to comment, CBS 2’s Gusoff reported.
But Wyandanch students and parents had plenty to say about the allegations.
“It’s very sad to think that the hierarchy of our school system’s acting in such inappropriate behaviors,” parent Rev. Robert Adams told CBS 2’s Gusoff.
“He gets us very hyped up to be in school and it’s just sad to think that he would do that,” said student Naomi Fitz.
“I know him and I feel upset,” student Melissa Pacheco told Gusoff. “I just wanted to cry.”
School officials said Cohen has been reassigned and faces further disciplinary action pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.
Suffolk police are asking anyone else who may have been a victim of inappropriate text messages from the assistant principal to contact them.