AP NEWS

Police charge NFA campus safety director, no others in student sexual relations investigation

February 26, 2019

Norwich — Police charged Norwich Free Academy Campus Safety Director Kevin Rodino Monday with several charges and said no further arrests are expected in an ongoing investigation into the academy’s handling of allegations that first surfaced in April 2017 that an assistant coach was having sexual relations with a student.

Rodino, 61, of 53 Lakeview Drive, Preston, was charged Monday with failure to report suspected child abuse, tampering with evidence, issuing a false statement and interfering with a police officer. He was released on a $500 nonsurety bond and is scheduled to appear in Norwich Superior Court March 7.

Norwich police had sought four arrest warrants in connection with the eight-month investigation into the school’s response to the sexual assault investigation, But only the warrant for Rodino’s arrest was approved and signed by Judge Hillary B. Strackbein.

In an unusual move, State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan released a letter Monday explaining that while Norwich police sought four arrest warrants for NFA officials who had knowledge of the allegations regarding Anthony Facchini, the former assistant coach, the statute of limitations on the charge of failure to report, a Class A misdemeanor, had lapsed. State law requires all school personnel to report allegations of abuse of minors to the state Department of Children and Families.

Regan wrote that the prosecution of the three other NFA officials would be “time barred” based on the one-year statute of limitations for Class A misdemeanors.

“The statute of limitations began to run on or about April 24, 2017 when the duty to report arose,” Regan wrote in a letter to Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley, “and would prohibit the issuance of a warrant after April 24, 2018.”

He added, “The facts alleged in the warrants are insufficient to charge them with failure to report suspected child abuse in violation of Section 17a-101 (b)(1)(B). Based on my review of the materials submitted, I have concluded that we would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of (three blacked out names) were willful or intentional or due to gross negligence.”

Facchini, 25, was charged Sept. 12 with two counts of second-degree sexual assault involving alleged sexual relationships with two students in 2017 and 2018. Facchini pleaded not guilty and is next due in New London Superior Court March 21.

On the day of Facchini’s arrest, police, assisted by members of the FBI Computer Analysis Response Team and the state police Crimes Unit combed the NFA campus and seized computers and electronic equipment associated with several NFA officials. Police obtained computer equipment and emails for Head of School David Klein, Director of Student Affairs John Iovino, former Athletic Director Eric Swallow and Shattuck House Principal Kristin Peckrul as part of the investigation.

According to the police arrest warrants for Facchini and Rodino and search warrants obtained by Norwich police for NFA computers, emails and investigation documents, top NFA officials learned of the first allegations in April 2017, when Curriculum Director Denise Grant called Rodino after she learned of the allegation.

Rodino’s initial investigation report obtained by police stated that Rodino met with Klein, Iovino and Swallow regarding the allegation. The report said the administrators asked Swallow to interview Facchini and Director of Guidance Jessica St. George to talk to the alleged student victim.

School officials quickly closed the investigation after both Facchini and the student denied they were in a sexual relationship. In the arrest warrant affidavit, Facchini told police on the eve of his meeting with Swallow, he asked the student victim to delete all communications between the two on her cellphone and to deny the relationship if questioned.

Although Rodino’s initial report stated the information was from an anonymous caller, Curriculum Director Grant told police she never intended to be anonymous and that Rodino was aware she was the one who called, and he called her back on her NFA desk phone.

According to police, Rodino’s initial report also did not indicate school officials intended to report the allegations to police or to DCF — as required by state law for all school personnel — even if Facchini had acknowledged the relationship.

“Rodino states in the initial report that it was decided, after advising Iovino, Klein and Athletic Director Eric Swallow, that Swallow would meet with Facchini regarding this matter to gain additional information,” police wrote in the search warrant affidavit. “Rodino also noted that if the allegations were found to be true, Facchini would be advised the social interaction should stop immediately.”

The warrants also stated that NFA initially turned over to police redacted copies of its internal investigation. When police executed a search and seizure warrant of Rodino’s office on Sept. 12, they found in a closet a green hard-backed notebook similar to the one Rodino had referred to and read from during a June 11 interview with at least 80 pages cut from the front of the notebook.

Rodino at the time told police he never saw the notebook before and never used one like it.

Police launched the investigation June 10 after another coach at NFA reported allegations that Facchini was involved in a sexual relationship with a second student.

The arrest warrant for Rodino repeated information contained in the earlier search warrants. During an interview between police detectives and Rodino and Assistant Campus Safety Director Stephany Bakoulis — now acting director — on June 11, police said Rodino referred to and read from his hand-written notes contained in the green hard-back notebook. Rodino and Bakoulis told police they would need a subpoena to obtain the notebook.

In an Aug. 21 interview with police, Rodino said the decision not to contact DCF after the initial investigation “was not made intentionally to hide information,” police wrote in the warrant. “He stated the decision was made collectively by the staff members involved in the investigation.”

Iovino and Swallow both told police they understood that Campus Safety officials would be primarily responsible for the investigation. Klein told police he relied on Rodino’s expertise as a former police officer to take the lead in the NFA investigation and he too said the initial call was from an anonymous woman.

Police interviewed Rodino again on Sept. 12, the day Facchini was arrested, in a video interview regarding alleged inconsistencies between Rodino’s statements to police and statements made by others, including Curriculum Director Grant.

Guidance Director St. George also told police she did not speak with Rodino after she interviewed the student, as Rodino had said. Rodino also allegedly told police “he could not dispute what Grant said however did not remember it that way,” police wrote.

Facchini told police that Rodino approached him outside a locker room to ask about his relationship with the first victim, while Rodino had told police that Facchini sought out Rodino to discuss the allegation.

The warrant stated that two students witnessed the conversation between Rodino and Facchini outside the locker room and provided statements to police.

Swallow resigned on Sept. 10, two days before police arrested Facchini on Sept. 12.

The NFA Board of Trustees hired an outside attorney, Matthew Curtin, to investigate school officials’ response to the allegations. On Jan. 14, the trustees voted unanimously to clear Klein of any wrongdoing in the school’s handling of the allegations and directed him to review the attorney’s findings — issued verbally without a written report — and implement any recommendations he deemed appropriate.

Later that week, Klein placed Rodino, Grant and Hopkins-Terrell on indefinite paid administrative leave “in connection with circumstances first arising in April 2017, which require further investigation and review,” identical letters to each of them stated. The Day obtained copies of the letters through a Freedom of Information request.

In a news release issued Monday regarding Rodino’s arrest, police said they requested to meet with Curtin regarding his investigation, but on Monday morning received a response from NFA attorney Kyle McClain that the Board of Trustees would not authorize Curtin to meet with police “for a variety of reasons, including the confidential and attorney-client privileged nature of the investigation,” police quoted McClain’s response.

The Board of Trustees has scheduled another executive session meeting for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss attorney-client privileged information, with “potential action regarding executive session discussion” to follow in open session.

NFA declined to respond to several questions posed by The Day Monday, including the status of Rodino’s continued employment and the status of the administrative leave of the two other staff members.

NFA instead issued a brief statement Monday regarding Rodino’s arrest:

“We are aware of today’s arrest,” the statement said. “Head of School David Klein placed Kevin Rodino, on administrative leave, January 23, 2019. Because of the possible criminal and civil implications of these matters, we are unable to comment further.”

c.bessette@theday.com