BELLPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island high school teacher has been charged with rape and criminal sex acts for allegedly having an affair with a 16-year-old student.
Jonathan Elsalam, 27, was suspended from his job as a Bellport High School assistant football coach and global history teacher last year.
The girl’s attorney, Jeffrey Brown, said while the two met and flirted in school, the actual nine-month affair was conducted off school grounds.
“The sexual activity would take place in a car, in motel rooms and I think even his house,” Brown told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “In December of 2011 is when I believe the sexual activity actually took place. It ended in or about August of 2012. The flirtation started in September of 2011.”
Elsalam pleaded not guilty to the rape and other charges against him at his arraignment.
“This defendant violated a trust and stands accused of preying upon a teenage girl, one of his students,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. “After reviewing the evidence and listening to testimony about these alleged crimes, a grand jury indicted him and issued a warrant culminating in his arrest last Friday evening in Ridge.”
The teen has filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the Bellport teacher and the South Country Central School District.
The student contends the district failed to monitor Elsalam despite the fact that the relationship was public knowledge.
The lawsuit alleges that another educator knew of the affair.
“He would comment, ‘you’re his girlfriend’ and would tease them. No one said anything. It just seems like everything was just understood and this was an acceptable culture,” Brown told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
The lawsuit also accuses Elsalam and the school district of violating the student’s civil rights under federal sexual harassment laws.
Brown said his client now requires psychological care from the relationship and no longer attends school.
“This is a young lady who’s got to bear this for the rest of her life and we just hope she gets better,” Brown said.
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