John O'Mard Pleads Not Guilty, Supporter Says He Didn't Know Victim's Age

FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) –– In Nassau County, there is disgust and dismay following the arrest of a middle school principal.

John O’Mard, the principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School in Freeport, was arraigned Wednesday afternoon on four counts of criminal sexual act in the third degree.

O’Mard, 44, is accused of having sex with a teenager he met online, Nassau County police said. He hid from the media after pleading not guilty and being released on bail that was set at $10,000 bond or $5,000 cash.

A supporter said that he had no idea about the age of his sex partner, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

According to police, O’Mard arranged to meet the 16-year-old boy on Sept. 15, 2012 after the pair met on the gay men’s sex website Grindr. They then arranged a meeting to have sex, according to police.

O’Mard is accused of picking up the teen in his car and driving him back to Freeport, where he allegedly coerced the underage minor to engage in various sex acts with him in the basement of his house, CBS 2’s McLogan reported.

The victim was an ex-student of the school and had O’Mard as a principal, police said. He and O’Mard chatted for about a week before meeting.

Neither one recognized the other before the sexual encounter but then afterward realized they did know each other, police said.

“The victim in the past did attend the middle school,” Det. Sgt.Carlo Maltempi told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.

Although the meeting took place in September, the teen only recently told a friend about the encounter, police said. The friend then notified the school, and the school notified police on March 15.

O’Mard was arrested at his home shortly after midnight March 20.

“The police arrested him last night about midnight in his home. He was fully cooperative and surrendered,” said defense attorney Edward Jenks.

O’Mard has been a principal at the school since 2003 and has been reassigned pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

He is a St. John’s graduate with a Masters from City College and was working on his Ph.D. Supporters claimed he is beloved and respected in the community.

Meanwhile, an interim principal has been appointed, Rivera reported.

Schools superintendent Dr. Kishore Kuncham issued the following statement Wednesday:

Today, the Nassau County Police Department informed me of the arrest of the J.W. Dodd Middle School principal for his alleged involvement in an inappropriate incident. The members of the Board of Education and I take this matter very seriously. The district’s number one priority is the safety and security of our students and staff.

The individual has been administratively reassigned to home pending the outcome of the investigation currently being conducted by law enforcement authorities. The district will continue to cooperate with law enforcement during their investigation. As this is a personnel matter, the district is legally prohibited from discussing any specifics regarding this individual and the police investigation.

In the interim, the responsibilities of the principal of J.W. Dodd Middle School have been assigned to former Assistant Principal Robert Micucci. Mr. Micucci had been with the District for 36 years, 21 of those years as Assistant Principal at Dodd Middle School before his retirement in June of 2011.”

Parents and students at the school were stunned by the allegations.

“He’s a very nice, polite, respectful man,” Carmen Mayo, the mother of an 8th grade boy at the school, said. “He made sure he greeted you every morning, he’s very active with the kids, goes to the games, so this is a great shock to me and I pray it’s not true.”

O’Mard faces up to four years in prison if convicted, and is due back in court March 25.

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