A New York State school resource officer has been arrested after allegedly having sexual contact with a 16-year-old student.
Joshua Spratt, 34, has been charged with criminal sex act in the third degree, endangering the welfare of a child, and official misconduct, CBS Albany reported.
"There's three victims, only one that legally we can pursue on the criminal sex act and that's the individual who is under the age of 17," said Albany County District Attorney David Soares.
Spratt is accused of having oral sex with a 16-year-old student in the parking lot of two cemeteries in Watervliet and Menands, Times Union reported. The now former Watervliet police officer is also accused of having sexual relations with a 17-year-old student. Soares said another 17-year-old was a witness.
Spratt pleaded not guilty in court Monday and his defense attorney, Andrew Safranko, told reporters it was too early to talk about his client’s defense. He added that his focus was to get Spratt out of jail.
"He is a 10 year veteran of the Watervliet Police, a 12 year veteran of the Army Reserve. Two deployments,” Safranko said. “I wanted to get him home to his family. Now we can work on his defense.”
Spratt is a husband and father of three, according to the Times Union. Spratt is on paid administrative leave with the police department, the police chief said on Monday. He also noted that the Watervliet Police Department had turned the investigation over to state police.
Meanwhile, Watervliet Superintendent Dr. Lori Caplan says she is determined to make students at Watervliet High School feel safe again.
"I need to reestablish and reassure my students that this is a safe place, the adults are here for them and to support them," Caplan said.
She added that Spratt was employed by the police department, not the school.
"We welcomed somebody into our school whose role was to keep our students safe and if indeed these allegations are true he played upon that role," Caplan said.
The school will be open to students Wednesday afternoon so that they can speak with trusted teachers and counselors. The Watervliet City School District released the following statement on its website:
The charges against Officer Spratt are devastating, and if true, represent an egregious and unforgivable betrayal of the trust we all placed in him. As always, our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of students. Our focus over the next few weeks will be helping them to come to terms with this betrayal.
Spratt is currently in Albany County Jail and is being held on $50,000 bond. His next court appearances is scheduled for some time next month.