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Vol. LXII, No. 5
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
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Hun School Janitor Is Charged and Held in Sexual Assault Case

Ellen Gilbert

Matthew Hersh

A janitor at the Hun School of Princeton was arrested last week, charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old female student at Hun’s Upper School.

Township Police Detective Sgt. Ernie Silagyi would not discuss the extent of the assault on the student, whose identity was withheld, but said that the incident occurred on campus, in a classroom where no one else was around, and that she was not physically injured or admitted to any area hospitals.

Township police confirmed Thursday that Erickson Isai Pretzintzin-Suchi, 24, of Trenton, while working for Hun through a subcontractor, the Butler-based Sky-Hi Custodial Services, committed the assault on a student on January 18, at 5:45 p.m. Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi, who operated under the alias Geovani Villagran, was arrested on January 23 upon his arrival for work at Hun, as a result of an investigation conducted by Township Police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to Sgt. Silagyi, Hun School officials had been made aware of information linking the student’s assault to Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi on January 22, and police were awaiting his arrival at Hun to take him into custody the following day.

Bail was set at $250,000 with no 10 percent option. A bail hearing was scheduled for Wednesday morning, January 30, in Mercer County Court. Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi was held at the Mercer County Correction Center in lieu of posting bail, pending court proceedings and possible deportation. Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi is an illegal immigrant, Sgt. Silagyi said, and he is currently wanted by the Federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureau. Sgt. Silagyi said it “appears” that Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi’s ICE warrant is for an unrelated charge, but that an investigation revealed that the suspect was wanted for deportation.

That action was in compliance with the state attorney general’s directive issued last year requiring police agencies to notify ICE of indictable offenses and drunken-driving cases in which the suspect is believed to be in the country illegally. An ICE agent, supervisory deportation officer Marc Merchiore from the agency’s Marlton office, identified Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi as a man wanted for deportation, police said.

Dr. James M. Byer, headmaster at the Hun School, said that the student “is doing well at this point. We’re very saddened by the news of the arrest on our campus.” He added that the school administration has been in close contact with the student and her family. “It’s a very difficult time,” he said. School officials declined to say whether the student was a boarder or day-student, and whether or not she is back in school.

“As soon as we found out about it on our end, the police were contacted and were brought into the picture,” said Bill McQuade, Head of the upper school at Hun. Having a student victimized like this “is one of the toughest situations any school can be in,” Mr. McQuade said.

He said the school also has reached out to students, parents and employees to inform them about the incident and offer counseling to anyone who wants it — including, first and foremost, the victim and her family.

“The victim was in the area for legitimate reasons and this individual was working in the area,” Sgt. Silagyi said. He said that Mr. Pretzintzin-Suchi had been working at the school for just two weeks.

Mr. McQuade said Hun has used Sky-Hi Custodial Services for six or seven years and, as of yesterday, they were still providing janitorial services for the school. At this time, Mr. McQuade said, it was too early to predict what changes, if any, the school will make as a result of this incident. “We are constantly evaluating everything that we do here at the school,” he said.

The Hun School, which charges $26,960 annually for commuter students and $36,190 for on-campus residents, has an enrollment of 590 drawn from 14 countries in grades 6 to 12 and pre-college.

Sgt. Silagyi and Det. Nancy Diaz of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office are leading the investigation.

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