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Attorney gave NFA board oral briefings on sexual assault investigation

January 15, 2019

Norwich – The attorney hired by the Norwich Free Academy Board of Trustees to investigate the school’s quick dismissal of April 2017 allegations that a then-assistant coach was having sexual relations with a student provided nearly seven hours of oral briefings to the board in December, but no written report, an NFA official said.

Based on those briefings, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday on a resolution stating that Head of School David Klein “did not engage in inappropriate or wrongful conduct regarding matters with the scope of the investigation.” The board voted separately to direct Klein to receive the attorney’s findings and implement any appropriate recommendations.

Board Chairwoman Sarette Williams announced on Nov. 1 that she had hired an independent attorney to investigate issues involving the arrest of former assistant coach Anthony Facchini, 25, of Norwich on two counts of second-degree sexual assault for allegedly having sexual relations with two then-NFA students in 2017 and 2018. Facchini was fired in July by NFA after school police started investigating the second incident.

Attorney Matthew Curtin, a labor and employment specialist at the firm, Murtha Cullina, provided the board with “a full report of findings to date in oral briefs,” NFA spokesman Geoff Serra said in an email Tuesday outlining the investigation chronology. Serra described the meetings as “nearly 7 hours of direct face-to-face engagement” in closed-door meetings Dec. 6 and Dec. 28.

Serra said Klein did not attend those meetings and was not privy to the information provided to the board. He added that Klein was aware of the investigation only in that he was a subject of the attorney’s investigation. Serra said the only NFA staff contact between the attorney and the board chairwoman was through NFA Director of Finance and Human Resources, Lucinda Finger.

“Until last night (Monday), the Board had taken no action on those oral briefings,” Serra wrote. “Last night, the Board acted to accept and endorse those findings to date in total, and specifically relative to David Klein.”

Serra said the investigation is still ongoing, and Curtin wants to resolve “several lingering issues.”

But after the board’s vote Monday, Klein now will be able to be briefed on the “full findings, which the Board already received,” and determine any next steps.

According to the arrest warrant for Facchini and police search warrants for NFA computers, electronic devices, emails and documents, NFA officials first learned of the first alleged sexual relation in April 2017. Director of Campus Security Kevin Rodino dismissed the allegations without reporting to police or the state Department of Children and Families after both Facchini and the student denied the relationship.

Police cited Rodino’s initial investigation report in which he said he met with Klein, Director of Student Affairs John Iovino and then-Athletic Director Eric Swallow and they decided that Swallow would interview Facchini and if the allegations proved true, Facchini would be told that “the social interaction should stop immediately,” police wrote in the warrant.

c.bessette@theday.com

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