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Middletown Area High School Teacher, Zachary Cerrone, Charged With Sexually Assaulting Students and Staff
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MIDDLETOWN, PA – A former Middletown Area High School teacher has been arrested and charged with multiple offenses related to inappropriate conduct that allegedly occurred between September and November 2023 on the campus located at 1155 N Union St, Middletown, PA 17057. The accused, Zachary Agustin Cerrone, 33, of Wellsboro, was apprehended on Thursday, February 8, 2024, by the Lower Swatara Township Police.

HS Teacher Facing Multiple Charges of Sexual Assault

Cerrone faces a range of charges, including a felony count of institutional sexual assault, two felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor (sexual offenses), two misdemeanor counts of corruption of minors, and three misdemeanor counts of indecent assault. These charges stem from incidents reported by students and staff members during Cerrone’s tenure at Middletown High School.

Students Allege Teacher Inappropriately Touched Them Multiple Times

According to a criminal complaint affidavit filed by investigators, one student came forward and reported that Cerrone had touched her buttocks, shoulders, and elbows on multiple occasions while they were in the classroom. The student also revealed that Cerrone would stare at her legs when she wore leggings, which made her uncomfortable. Another student corroborated some of the first student’s allegations and accused Cerrone of touching her hips and buttocks.

Staff Member Also Accuses Cerrone of Sexual Misconduct

In addition to the students’ accounts, a staff member at Middletown High School accused Cerrone of inappropriate touching. She claimed that he would rub the genital area of his pants against her when he walked behind her in the classroom. The staff member confronted Cerrone about his conduct, but he did not cease his actions.

Concerns Raised by School Staff Regarding Teacher’s Inappropriate Behavior Toward Students

Further investigations revealed that multiple staff members at Middletown High School had expressed concerns about Cerrone’s behavior towards female students. These accounts added weight to the allegations brought against him.

Resignation and School Response After Teacher Arrested For Sexual Assault

Cerrone, who had been listed as a special education teacher on the Middletown School District website, resigned from his position at the high school in January, as confirmed by school board minutes. The district responded promptly upon learning of the accusations, conducting an internal investigation and cooperating fully with local law enforcement authorities.

Superintendent Addresses Alleged Sexual Assault of Student on Campus

Dr. Chelton Hunter, the Superintendent of Schools, issued a letter addressing the allegations against Cerrone. In the letter, he expressed deep concern and acknowledged the erosion of trust caused by such incidents. He assured the community that immediate action was taken upon learning of the accusations, and the necessary steps were taken to remove Cerrone from the school pending a comprehensive investigation.

Ongoing Investigation and Seeking Additional Information

The investigation into the allegations against Cerrone is still ongoing, according to the police. Anyone with additional information related to the case is urged to contact Detective Robert Appleby with the Lower Swatara Township Police Department.

Former Coaching Positions Held by Cerrone Raise Concerns and Uncertainties

In a related development, it was discovered that Cerrone had also served as the former head wrestling coach at Hershey High School, according to PAWrestling.com. He was additionally listed as the junior high coach of the Elizabethtown High School girls’ wrestling team. It is uncertain whether these positions are directly linked to the allegations against him.

The community and authorities remain committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of students, emphasizing that inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated within the school district. The case serves as a reminder of the importance of vigilance and reporting any suspicious or concerning behavior promptly.

High School Sexual Assault Victims Have Legal Rights to Justice

In the wake of a former teacher’s arrest for sexual assault, questions arise regarding the legal options available to victims and their families in cases of child sex abuse by teachers or coaches. To shed light on this important topic, attorney Laurence Banville sat down with Brian Kent, Esq., a prominent sex abuse attorney based in Pennsylvania. Join the conversation to learn more about the legal avenues and considerations for seeking justice and compensation in civil cases involving sexual abuse in educational settings.

Laurence Banville (LB): Brian, thank you for joining us.

Brian Kent (BK): Thank you, Laurence. It’s a pleasure to be here.

LB: Brian, in light of the recent arrest of a high school teacher for institutional sexual assault among other charges, many are wondering what options are available to sex abuse victims and their families in situations like these. Can you shed some light on the legal recourse they may have?

BK: Absolutely, Laurence. When a student has been sexually abused by a teacher or coach at a high school, there are typically two avenues for seeking justice: criminal charges and civil lawsuits. Criminal charges hold the offender accountable for their actions, while civil lawsuits allow victims to pursue financial compensation and hold liable parties accountable for their negligence or failure to protect the students.

LB: Could you explain further how civil lawsuits work in these cases?

BK: Certainly. In civil cases, victims and their families can file a lawsuit against various parties who may share liability. This can include the abuser, the school district, administrators, and even other individuals who had knowledge of the abuse but failed to take appropriate action. These lawsuits aim to seek compensation for the victims’ physical and emotional injuries, medical expenses, therapy costs, and other damages they have suffered as a result of the abuse.

LB: What factors should victims and their families consider when deciding whether to pursue a civil lawsuit?

BK: Victims and their families should consult with an experienced sex abuse attorney to discuss their specific circumstances. Factors such as the statute of limitations, which varies from state to state, may impact the timing of filing a lawsuit. Additionally, it’s crucial to gather evidence, witness testimonies, and any documentation related to the abuse. An attorney can guide victims through the legal process, provide support, and help determine the best course of action based on the individual case.

LB: Are there any challenges victims may face when pursuing a civil lawsuit against a school district or other liable parties?

BK: Yes, there can be challenges. School districts and other institutions often have powerful legal teams who will vigorously defend against these claims. They may attempt to discredit the victim or argue that they were not aware of the abuse. It’s crucial for victims to have skilled legal representation to level the playing field and ensure their rights are protected. An experienced attorney can navigate these challenges and fight for the justice and compensation victims deserve.

LB: Thank you, Brian, for sharing your insights on this important topic.

BK: Thank you, Laurence. It’s my mission to support and advocate for victims of sexual abuse, and I encourage anyone who has been affected to seek legal guidance and support.

Your Voice Matters: Contact Us for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one have been a victim of sexual abuse by a teacher or coach at a high school, remember that you are not alone. Seeking justice and compensation is crucial, and our team of experienced attorneys is here to support you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal options and to ensure your voice is heard. Together, we can work towards holding those responsible accountable and fighting for the justice you deserve.

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