ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A principal in the Hilton School District accused of sexually abusing several young students pleaded not guilty to all 25 counts of the indictment on Wednesday.
Kirk Ashton, principal at Northwood Elementary School of the Hilton Central School Disrict, is accused of sexually abusing at least 11 students, with offenses dating back several years.
Ashton appeared virtually from Niagara County jail — where he’s being held — and that played into arguments regarding bail during court Wednesday.
Ashton was indicted on 25 charges by a Monroe County grand jury on the following charges:
- 7 counts of second degree sexual conduct against a child
- 7 counts of first degree sexual abuse
- 11 counts of endangering the welfare of a child
After pleading not guilty to all counts — Ashton’s lawyer— Robert King— moved to decrease bail — which had been set at $350,000. King says he’s been talking to Ashton on the phone, but when trial preparation begins, he wants to be able to easily meet with Ashton.
He argued Ashton is not a flight risk — and requested bail be lowered to $175,000.
The prosecution argued he could be a flight risk — with his community support gone. Ashton is currently on paid administrative leave. According to the prosecution, Ashton does still collect his paycheck, but can’t report to the building he was working in Northwood Elementary School.
“It seems as though his support he has in the community isn’t there anymore and while he has a job and paycheck only, he’s not allowed to report to that building. That’s my understanding so all the things that would keep people connected and tied to the community it was our position that he doesn’t have those,” Prosecutor Sara VanStrydonck said.
“But there’s bail that’s been set in a substantial amount so we’re hopeful again. Bail is just to have somebody return to court and we’re hopeful that amount will make him return to court.”
VanStrydonck said she doesn’t think the original bail was too high considering Ashton is still collecting a paycheck. However, the Judge Karen Bailey Turner lowered bail to $250,000.
“She changed what two other judges have done so I would say Mr. Ashton appreciates that,” Ashton’s attorney Robert King said.
“Every violent felony allegation is every serious dealt. We’ve with many, many violent felonies in the past. You’ve seen many, many not guilty verdicts come out of this building and it’s going to be based on facts and evidence as it should.”
King said he isn’t sure if Ashton will post bail. He also added he hasn’t received any discovery yet — police reports, incident reports or anything to look over.
10 out of 11 alleged victims have requested orders of protection which the judge signed.
Pre-trial motions are scheduled to be argued in person on July 15 and pre-trial hearings are scheduled for August 27 in person.