February 12, 2014

Judge Maintains $250K Bail at Curran Hearing

A bail hearing for Thomas J. Curran, 55, of Ewing, was held in Mercer County Superior Court, Friday. Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier maintained bail for Mr. Curran at $250,000 and ordered that he is to have no contact with his alleged 11-year-old victim or any other child under the age of 16.

Mr. Curran is charged with sexually assaulting the boy in the victim’s West Windsor home where Mr. Curran was providing after-school care. He is alleged to have engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with the boy on numerous occasions between April and June 2013 and is charged with one count of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault, and one count of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

A 2000 report in a Lehigh Valley Newspaper (http://articles.mcall.com/2000-06-02/news/3305284/) at the time of Mr. Curran’s appointment as middle school director of the Swain School in Salisbury Township, stated that the teacher and administrator had worked in independent schools in Georgia and New Jersey.

The article stated that Mr. Curran previously served as “middle school head of the Episcopal Day School, Augusta, Ga.; science and health teacher at Morristown-Beard and Pennington schools in New Jersey, and adjunct professor of anatomy and physiology at Bellarmine College, Louisville, Ky.”

The Pennington School confirmed yesterday that Mr. Curran was employed as a teacher there from 1991 to 1996.

The fact that Mr. Curran also formerly served as dean of students and science teacher at the American Boychoir School (ABS) has raised the past specter of that school’s history (previously covered in Town Topics, including: www.towntopics.com/aug1606/story1.html).

Acting president of the American Boychoir School Robert D’Avanzo was asked for comment yesterday and issued the following official statement: “While extremely disturbing, the allegations associated with Mr. Curran’s arrest are not in any way related to American Boychoir School. Mr. Curran was employed as Dean of Students at American Boychoir School from August 2011 until June 2012 when he left for reasons unrelated to the issues currently under investigation. We have not been contacted or involved in this  investigation. At American Boychoir School, student welfare is our highest priority and the school is committed to a comprehensive child abuse prevention program.”

Since 1937, The American Boychoir School has offered boys from across the United States and around the world the opportunity to sing in what is known as the nation’s premier professional boychoir. More information on the school’s child abuse prevention program can be viewed at: www.americanboychoir.org.

In 2002, the New York Times detailed previous sexual abuse cases that took place at the school in the 1970s, 1980s, and into the late 1990s. In 2006, Richard Codey signed a bill into New Jersey law making New Jersey the 48th state to allow victims of childhood sex abuse to sue churches, schools, and other non-profit organizations for the actions of their staff.

Mr. Curran was found and arrested in Woodstock, Ga., by the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Georgia Regional Fugitive Task Force. He was taken back to New Jersey by detectives from the prosecutor’s office and the West Windsor police after signing a waiver of extradition. His appearance in court Friday was by video from the Mercer County Correction Center. He commented that he hopes for a “speedy trial.”

The investigation is still in its early stages and, according to Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Downing, it is anticipated that other victims will come forward. Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact Detective Anthony Petracca of the county prosecutor’s office Special Victims Unit at (609) 989-6424 or apetracca@mercercounty.org.