HILTON, N.Y. (WROC) — The Bivona Child Advocacy Center was in the Hilton Central School District, educating the students on sexual abuse, prior to students coming forward making allegations against the principal of
“Members of Bivona were in the school just prior to the allegations completing education program which likely resulted in people coming forward,” said Maj. Barry Chase, New York State Police said during a press conference on Thursday.
Northwood Elementary School principal Kirk Ashton is accused of sexually abusing at least nine students, with offenses dating back several years.
Ashton was arrested Wednesday night and is facing nine counts of endangering the welfare of a child, six counts of first degree sex abuse, and five counts of second degree sexual conduct against a child. Officials say more charges are possible if more victims come forward.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley and New York State Police Major Barry Chase said the incidents of alleged abuse took place inside the school and during school hours.
Executive Director Deb Rosen says Bivona provides this education in eight districts in the county under Erin’s Law — which requires public schools to teach child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention classes to students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Rosen says these incidents often happen, unfortunately, with someone a child knows well, trusts, and sees as a friend As a result it may seem scary to “tell on” them or see they’re taken advantage of.
“It’s not just conversation between a parent and their child, parents need to be talking to other adults in their family system, ‘Who are the adults that have access to my children?’ and how do we feel about those adults,” Rosen said.
“Are there patterns of contact with our children we ought to be concerned about?” Rosen asked.
Bivona will be assisting in investigation in completing child interviews.
Leading the prosecution of this case will be Monroe Count Assistant District Attorney Sara Van Strydonck who spoke at a press conference on Thursday and said there are ways for concerned parents to discuss these matters with their children.
“Has anybody at school made you feel uncomfortable?” Van Strydonck asked. “Is there anything at school that happens that you didn’t like? There are many different ways to ask and the most important thing is kids are looking at your reaction.”