Past allegations, evidence grows against teacher accused of sexual assault

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Police are tracking what could be another incident of misconduct for a Cranston teacher already accused of sexually assaulting four females students at Cranston West High School. charged with 12 counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault.

Charles Pearson, age 58, a science teacher at Cranston West High School, was charged with 12 counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault and was arraigned at Cranston Police Headquarters Thursday evening.

According to Police Chief Michael Winquist, Pearson was investigated for sexual abuse while he was employed at the RI Training Academy in 2001. While police obtained these records through a search warrant, Winquist said, federal law prohibits the Department of Children, Youth, and Families from releasing any information to the public.

DCYF officials claimed it was a possibility that Pearson showed up in an abuse tracking system used by child welfare workers, but that system cannot be used by schools per state law.

Pearson resigned from his job at the academy following the incident and no charges were filed, said Winquist.

Months later, he was hired by Cranston West.

Overall, Winquist said information concerning Pearson’s “similar pattern of behavior” only “lends credence” to the most recent allegations.

Evidence seized in the current investigation included a women’s bra, found in Pearson’s desk drawer at school.

Winquist stated that that information from one of the alleged victim’s cell phones will also be used.

Under state law, all school employees are legally obligated to report any potential abuse within 24 hours of learning about it. This is something Winquist said, Charles Blessing, the school’s psychologist, failed to do.

Blessing was placed paid leave from the school on Monday after questions were raised over whether he withheld information about assault allegations against Pearson.

On Tuesday, he was arrested and arraigned on a misdemeanor charge of “duty to report sexual abuse of a child in an educational program.”

Senator Lois DiPalma said, “We’re actually seeing the fruits of Senator Goodwin and the general assembly’s labor and the governor’s authority in signing this because the 24 hour period was added last year.”

Pearson’s attorney and the Cranston Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse did not respond to calls for comment by Eyewitness News.

In a letter home to parents, Nota-Masse stated:

All employees are vetted thoroughly through the hiring process. We follow all state laws for proper hiring of employees. BCIs are done for all new employees upon hiring. BCIs were done on both of the faculty members involved in this incident, and both had no criminal records at the time of hiring.