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Charged with
sexual abuse

By Dan Hust
LIBERTY — April 9, 2010 — The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office and the Village of Liberty Police Department have arrested a Liberty gym teacher and charged him with sexual abuse.
In a press conference held Wednesday, Sheriff’s Office Patrol Chief Art Hawker said 20-year-old Joshua DiMeo of Liberty has been charged with disseminating indecent material to a minor in the first degree, a felony, and misdemeanor counts of sexual abuse in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a minor.
DiMeo was arrested on April 1 in a sting operation, said Hawker.
The Liberty Police had been notified on March 25 that DiMeo, a physical education teacher with Light and Life Christian Academy in Liberty, may have had sexual contact with one of his 13-year-old students.
The Sheriff’s Office was brought in when the case expanded beyond the boundaries of the village, said Hawker, and detectives quickly discovered text messages on the student’s cellphone and instant messages sent via Facebook to the girl, allegedly by DiMeo.
When DiMeo showed up at the girl’s house – allegedly to have sex with her, said Hawker – police arrested him.
Shortly thereafter, they seized computers, cellphones and a digital camera at DiMeo’s 112 Carrier Street home.
The investigation is ongoing, and Hawker said there appear to be two victims at this time – one girl who was allegedly abused by DiMeo since June of last year, and another girl, also 13, who allegedly received indecent material from DiMeo, including a picture of male genitalia. That girl, however, allegedly had not been physically abused by DiMeo, said Hawker.
“We don’t believe there are any other victims,” he added.
DiMeo was remanded to Sullivan County Jail without bail, and he remains there awaiting a court appearance this Tuesday.
Police could not say how long DiMeo has worked at Light and Life, but Hawker surmised he got the job through a relative who is one of the school’s administrators.
Hawker declined to name the relative, saying only that “that person is not involved in this case.”
Light and Life, a private K-8 facility, is run by the Liberty Free Methodist Church. One of the leaders of that church, Ed Sostak, confirmed that DiMeo has been suspended until the investigation is concluded. He declined to comment further.
The school has been in touch with parents and students about the matter, and a statement was released this week by the church: “The safety and well being of all LLCS students and staff continues to be our utmost concern, and we have worked diligently throughout the last week to ensure a safe and positive return for all students, staff and their families. We are fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities and are supporting a full investigation by the agencies involved.”
Police are asking those with information to call them at either 292-4422 or 794-7100. All calls will be kept confidential, said Hawker.

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