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Investigation of alleged sex abuse could be 'extensive'

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Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

State police are investigating the possibility that more students may accuse a Saltsburg Middle/High School teacher of inappropriate contact.

Trooper John Matchik said it is “well within the realm of possibility” that Todd Deven McCullough, 28, of Kiski Township, Armstrong County, who was charged on Thursday with raping a female student, victimized others.

“We may have just scratched the surface,” Matchik said. “This could be an extensive investigation.”

McCullough, the school's industrial arts teacher, is accused of assaulting the girl in a room in the school in April 2012.

Police said McCullough was suspended about a week ago by the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District when a different female student reported unwanted contact.

No additional charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon. An attorney for McCullough was not listed on online court records.

District officials said the only statement they would provide was posted on the district website. It indicates that an internal investigation was conducted and administrators are cooperating with police.

Messages left with several school board and Saltsburg Elementary School Parent Teacher Association members were not returned.

School director George Rowley said he was pleased by the quick response to the allegations.

“I am pleased that we got him out as soon as we found out about” the accusations, Rowley said. “The kids are first.”

McCullough is being held in the Indiana County Jail on $150,000 bail.

Police claim in a criminal complaint that he touched the 16-year-old girl inappropriately for several years before the sexual assault in April 2012.

McCullough touched the girl's hips, massaged her shoulders and complimented her appearance, police said. In April 2012, he allegedly asked her repeatedly to show him her breasts while they were in the work area of a shop room.

The girl refused and later was asked by McCullough to come with him into a “small, isolated back room,” the complaint said.

McCullough exposed himself, and the girl fled, police said. A week later, he apologized, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

A few days later, he again took the girl into the back room, where he sexually assaulted her, police said.

Toward the end of the 2011-12 school year, he told the victim that he hoped she would be “mature about this,” the affidavit said.

McCullough graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in May 2009 with a bachelor's degree in technology education. Newspaper archives show he was named to the dean's list at least twice.

His teaching certification was issued in June 2009, and the district hired him that August.

He was at the school for an administrative hearing on Thursday when he was arrested, police said.

He was appointed sophomore class adviser in October 2010 and volunteer middle-high school football coach for the 2009-10 season. The board granted him tenure in August 2012.

McCullough is charged with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, institutional assault, corruption of minors, indecent exposure, harassment, disorderly conduct, open lewdness and two counts each of aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.

A Nov. 13 preliminary hearing is scheduled before District Judge Jennifer J. Rega.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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