A school principal has been charged with sexually abusing at least nine boys in west New York, officials said Thursday.
Kirk Ashton, principal of Northwood Elementary School in Hilton, allegedly abused the boys, who were between ages 8 and 12, during school hours. The school is about 20 miles northwest of Rochester.
Ashton, 51, is charged with multiple counts of first-degree sex abuse, second-degree sexual conduct against a child and endangering the welfare of a child, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley announced at a Thursday press conference.
The allegations date back to 2017, though authorities are investigating if there may be other incidents from Ashton’s 17-year tenure at the school, New York State Police Lt. Barry Chase said Thursday.
“Generally, individuals who are predators, they prey on children,” Chase said. “Unfortunately, sometimes they get into positions that are powerful and, you know, they take advantage of the weak and the young. It does happen and it's very unfortunate that these people get into certain types of positions.”
Doorley declined to detail Ashton’s alleged actions but said he is accused of engaging in sexual conduct multiple times with victims during the school day up until March 26, when state police were alerted following a call to the state Child Abuse Hotline.
Ashton was taken into custody Wednesday night and remained detained as of Saturday morning, according to inmate records. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in Greece Town Court, and bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.
Hilton Central School District placed Ashton on administrative leave on April 8, according to a letter it issued to parents Wednesday night.
“The School District has been cooperating fully with the State Police,” the district letter said. “Our primary concern is for our students. Our District crisis team has formulated a plan to support students and staff, and counselors are available for students throughout the day.”