He was there to help an autistic boy's family care for their son. Instead a Commack home attendant sexually abused the 5-year-old boy and his 7-year-old brother in their home, according to an indictment unsealed in Riverhead Tuesday.
Marc Pipitone, 31, pleaded not guilty before Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn on an 11-count indictment charging him with five counts of first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and one count of first-degree harassment.
Pipitone, a licensed special education teacher who has worked as a substitute, was held on bail of $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond. The judge also issued orders of protection for the victims. His attorney, Kevin Kearon of Rockville Centre, said Pipitone "is devastated by these allegations."
"He is a responsible, caring and conscientious teacher," said Kearon, adding that Pipitone has never faced allegations of impropriety.
Prosecutors said Pipitone, who received his teaching license from New York State in 2005, has in the past worked for the Deer Park and Smithtown school districts.
According to prosecutor Dana Brown, Pipitone, a special education teacher for the Developmental Disabilities Institute, was hired to teach and care for the disabled boy, whose autism is so severe he doesn't speak.
He began going to the boy's home in the summer of 2007, and only went on Saturdays.
Seven months later, in February, he was fired by the boy's mother, for "overstepping his boundaries" in how he taught the younger boy, Brown said.
In the following months, Brown said, Pipitone harassed and stalked the family, sending e-mail messages in which he threatened the boys and their mother.
He was arrested by police on harassment and sex abuse charges earlier this month, and given a desk appearance ticket to return to court in June. The next day, after police confronted him about the allegations of sexual abuse, Pipitone returned to speak with them and made statements incriminating himself, Brown said.
The 7-year-old boy has since told his family that Pipitone molested him, Brown said.
Kearon said Pipitone denies making any admissions of guilt, and would fight the case at trial.
He said literature shows that young children are "susceptible to the power of suggestion. I am very convinced that that is exactly what happened here."