Babylon teacher charged for alleged sexual relationship with minor in 2013

BABYLON, New York (WABC) -- A Babylon School District teacher was arrested Thursday for allegedly engaging in a sexual relationship with a minor in 2013.

Suffolk County police said they were contacted in October of 2021 by administrators from the Babylon Union Free School District, who reported allegations of misconduct involving district staff.

During an investigation by Special Victims Section detectives, a woman came forward in November 2021 and reported she had a sexual relationship with teacher Timothy Harrison during the fall of 2013 when she was 15 years old and he was 38.

Police said Harrison's sexual contact with the victim happened off-school grounds, but the victim said Harrison engaged in inappropriate conduct on school property.

Harrison, 46, of Oak Beach, who was also a lacrosse and basketball coach, was arrested during a traffic stop on the Robert Moses Causeway at Route 27A in West Islip.

Police said Harrison also coached girls through Legacy Lacrosse. They said the lacrosse team removed him as a coach in November.

Eyewitness News reached out to Legacy Lacrosse for comment, but they did not respond.

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Harrison is charged with two counts of third-degree rape and one count for third-degree criminal sexual act.

"I'd like to commend the victim in this case who has exhibited so much bravery coming forward years after she was preyed upon," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison.

Police said the woman was inspired to come forward to police after several women made similar accusations to the Babylon School Board in November regarding alleged abuse by teachers and coaches when they were students at Babylon High School.

Anyone who believes they may be a victim of Harrison is asked to call Special Victims Section detectives at 631-852-8791.

Last year, Attorney General Letitia James ordered an investigation into the district after students at Babylon High School staged a walkout in support of former students who said they were sexually abused by teachers and coaches.

Five employees were reassigned, including Harrison, after the former students came forward.

Brittany Rohl, 28, who graduated Babylon Junior-Senior High School in 2011, said in an open letter addressed to the Babylon Board of Education that between 2010 and 2013, a teacher groomed and sexually abused her until her second year of college.

"It was really insidious and it just kept building for a few years," Rohl said. "He was my track coach, started to kind of isolate me, tell me I was special...And then it became physical. Before that, he sat me down on the bleachers and told me he was going to take my virginity."

She said it went on for years and that the coach even visited her weekly for sex when she was in college.

Rohl told Eyewitness News reporter Kristin Thorne that she is relieved at Harrison's arrest and that her thoughts are with the victim.

"I know what it's like to, to gather up the courage to talk about it," she said.

Rohl said her alleged abuser cannot face criminal charges because they did not have sexual contact until a few days after her 18th birthday.

Rohl said she knew Harrison when she was in high school and she is "not surprised" that he was arrested.

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Several other students shared their stories of sexual abuse at a school board meeting.

"I know that he would smack people on the butt with tennis rackets, twirl it in between their legs, look underneath their skirt, like it was an ongoing thing," said Darcy Bennet, a 2009 graduate.

Barbara Maier, a 2008 graduate, said she was also a victim.

"We didn't know," she said. "We were kids. This is wrong."

"The Babylon School District has been made aware that a high school teacher was arrested earlier today for an alleged criminal act involving sexual misconduct with a minor in 2013," Superintendent Linda Rozzi said in a statement Thursday. "Upon first learning of this alleged inappropriate behavior in November 2021, the district acted immediately by removing the individual from his classroom, reassigning him to his residence, removing all privileges, and immediately notifying law enforcement authorities. The district also commenced its own internal investigation with regard to the allegations against this individual. These allegations are extremely disturbing, and our thoughts are with the victim. The district and Board of Education have zero tolerance towards such heinous acts and take all claims of this nature very seriously. We will continue to make the safety and well-being of our students and staff our top priority. As this is a personnel matter, the district has no further comment on this matter and refers any specific inquiries regarding the arrest of this individual to law enforcement."

James says her office is still conducting a civil investigation into the complaints made by the women to the Babylon School Board.

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