A teacher in Liberty is accused of having sexual contact with a 13-year-old student and then preying on another young girl for sex. As Lori Chung reports, police are now trying to find out if the suspect targeted any other students at the school.
LIBERTY, N.Y. -- "I can't believe it happened, not here, not in this small town," said Nordia Tompkins.
Like Tompkins, many parents in Liberty are unnerved by the news that a gym teacher at the Light and Life Christian Academy is now charged with sexually abusing one student and then preying on another for sex.
"It's appalling. It's ridiculous that we can't trust them to educate our kids," said Liberty resident Sadequa Steele.
Authorities say Joshua DiMeo sent explicit texts and Facebook messages to a 13-year-old student in an attempt to lure her into a sexual relationship.
An investigator used the phone to pose as the student and then made plans to meet in person. That's when police say they made their move.
Sullivan County Sheriff's Chief of Patrol Art Hawker said, "He transmitted a photo of a genital area of a person, he came to the residence under the belief that he was going to have sex with the juvenile female, unaware that he had in fact been texting one of the detectives."
And police say this is part of a pattern. DiMeo is accused of using the same method of contact with another female student and then sexually abusing her. Authorities are now searching through DiMeo's computer and cell phone to see who else he may have been in contact with.
There's still no word on what, if any disciplinary action the school is taking against DiMeo. School officials simply released a statement saying, "The safety and well being of all LLCS students and staff continues to be our utmost concern...." They go on to say, "... we are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities and are supporting a full investigation by the agencies involved."
Police are now working to find out if there are more victims out there. They're asking anyone who may have had a similar experience with DiMeo to call the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department.