GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A Forest Hills Central Middle School teacher accused in two sex assaults of students was described by one student as a “touchy person,” court documents show.
John Patrick Moglia, 55, of Lowell, was arraigned Wednesday, Aug. 5 on two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving inappropriate touching. The charge is a high-court misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison.
A Kent County judge issued a bond of $10,000 (10 percent), meaning Moglia can be released from custody after paying $1,000.
School administrators say he is on a leave of absence pending the outcome of the criminal case and an internal investigation. Moglia teachers art and yearbook at Forest Hills Central Middle School.
According to court documents, Kent County sheriff’s detectives began investigating Moglia when a parent of a 14-year-old girl called them June 10.
During an interview at an advocacy center with experts skilled in child interviews, the teen said Moglia rubbed the small of her back and inner thigh at the school. He also asked her to take photos at a sporting event and, while placing the camera around her neck, allegedly groped her breasts.
Detectives then checked with school administrators and learned that another 14-year-old student had made a prior complaint against Moglia that initiated a Title IX investigation by the district. The investigation was in fall 2019, according to the affidavit.
In another interview at the advocacy center, the second teen described Moglia as a “touchy person.” One day, she was sitting in a tall chair in his classroom when he walked up and squeezed her thigh with his hand, according to the affidavit.
He allegedly asked if she was ticklish and squeezed her thigh again, the girl told investigators.
Christine Annese, assistant superintendent for human resources at Forest Hills Schools, said the earlier Title IX investigation was resolved with the teen’s parent. It wasn’t clear if Moglia was reprimanded.
Annese said school officials are working with the police and she encouraged anyone else with information about Moglia to contact police.
“From our perspective, students physical and emotional safety is our highest priority,” she said.
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