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North Hills elementary teacher accused of inappropriately touching student

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, 1:15 p.m.
Nathan Buttenfield
Nathan Buttenfield

A North Hills School District teacher is accused of inappropriately touching a student at Highcliff Elementary.

Nathan Buttenfield, 41, of Gibsonia was arraigned Tuesday morning on charges of indecent assault, institutional sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, child endangerment and corruption of a minor. Buttenfield was released on $50,000 unsecured bond.

Ross police said Buttenfield teaches physical education and health at Highcliff Elementary, which has students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The alleged victim reported Nov. 2 that Buttenfield inappropriately touched her during a gym activity, police said.

Buttenfield’s attorney, Robert A. Crisanti, said his client “told me equivocally that there is no way this happened and that nothing inappropriate happened.”

Crisanti added: “My client has no criminal history, he has never had anything written up against him by the school district. He is a model teacher who is lived by his students and respected in the community.”

North Hills officials said they immediately notified police after learning of the allegations.

“I am deeply disheartened by this incident,” North Hills Superintendent Patrick J. Mannarino said in a letter posted on the district’s website.

“Day in and day out, our top priority remains the safety and security of each and every student,” Mannarino said. “We undertake this responsibility with utmost seriousness and work diligently, alongside our law enforcement partners, to ensure the most welcoming and protective environment for all of our students.”

Mannarino said the district placed Buttenfield on leave and prohibited him from being on school property prior to the start of classes Nov. 7, the first day of school after the alleged incident was reported.

In response to the alleged incident and similar ones across the country, the school district and Ross police said they are partnering with UPMC Children’s Hospital Child Advocacy Center and the advocacy group Pittsburgh Action Against Rape to hold two informational meetings for parents and guardians.

The first meeting will start at 4 p.m. Wednesday and the second will start at 6 p.m. Nov. 27. Both are being held in the North Hills High School Auditorium.

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