Retired Long Island teacher accused of sexually abusing students for decades held on $600K bond

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Retired teacher accused of sexually abusing students for decades
Chantee Lans has the story.

BAY SHORE, Suffolk County (WABC) -- More than 50 victims have come forward to accuse a former third-grade teacher on Long Island of sexual abuse over several decades.

Prosecutors say Thomas Bernagozzi, 76, is a serial child abuser with a total of 56 victims who have come forward.

The former Bay Shore elementary school teacher pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing two former students.

Prosecutors alleged in court Wednesday that the Bay Shore School District knew about it and turned a blind eye.

Officials said that 11 new victims have come forward since his arrest last month, which is on top of the 45 individual lawsuits under the New York State Child Victims Act.

Bernagozzi retired from teaching in 2003. He taught the third grade from 1970 to 2000.

Prosecutors say it was during that time at Gardiner Manor Elementary School and Mary Clarkson Elementary School when the sexual assaults took place.

The victims ages range from 4 to 8 years old.

Robert Hubbard filed one of the 45 civil lawsuits. He says he was a student of Bernagozzi's in 1976.

Hubbard said Bernagozzi would fondle him in the classroom and at baseball games. He said Bernagozzi should be behind bars.

Prosecutors say Bernagozzi took students -- mostly boys -- to a local private gym and the beach. They say photos of hundreds of students were found inside his home.

Bernagozzi was arrested on a $600,000 bond. His attorney said he will post it.

Bernagozzi is due back in court in March. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years on each charge.

The Bay Shore School District released a statement declining to comment on Wednesday's arraignment.

"Due to pending and ongoing litigation, the Bay Shore School District declines to comment on the arraignment today of Mr. Bernagozzi. We remain committed to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our students."

Anyone with information about Bernagozzi is being asked to call the department's Special Victims Section at 631-275-2302.


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