WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Students returned to Gorton Junior High School Tuesday morning a day after a teacher at the school was arraigned on first- and second-degree sex assault charges.
Mario Atoyan, a science teacher at the school, is accused of assaulting a 15-year-old female relative last June.
School officials say the 49-year-old showed up for work Monday, but left school early – saying he was sick.
North Kingstown police confirm Atoyan’s accuser is not a Gorton student.
While he declined to go on camera, Warwick School Superintendent Richard D’Agostino told Eyewitness News he has received no calls from Gorton parents, expressing any concern that students may have been harmed.
Even so, the school’s principal sent a letter home with students, advising them to monitor their children for adverse affects.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian told Eyewitness News that he is looking for more information on Atoyan. According to Avedisian, D’Agostino has refused to provide him with any information — and he has been forced to consult city attorneys.
Meanwhile, the parent of one of Atoyan’s students told us the news caught her off guard.
“Shocked. Absolutely shocked, at first because he’s a very well-respected member of the community,” said the parent, who did not want to be identified. “You have to just let the system do its job. We have to have faith, because if we overreact and start jumping to assumptions, we’re going to teach our children to do the same thing.”
Atoyan is not the first Gorton teacher who stands accused of illicit behavior. In February 2014, state police arrested social studies teacher Thomas Hewes of Cranston, after he allegedly impersonated a 16-year-old girl online, to extract sexual images from underage boys, He was also found in possession of child pornography.
Eyewitness News has attempted to contact Atoyan’s lawyer, but has not heard back.