Rape, 3 other charges dropped against Saltsburg teacher
A Saltsburg High School student said she told only her best friend that a shop teacher had sex with her in school in the spring of 2012.
But when police learned of the alleged assault and met with the girl last month, she decided to tell investigators.
“I have a little sister … and I didn’t want him anywhere near her,” the girl testified Wednesday during a preliminary hearing for Todd Devin McCullough, 28, of Kiski Township in Armstrong County.
District Judge Jennifer Rega ruled that prosecutors presented no evidence indicating the alleged sexual contact was forced. She dismissed four charges — rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault.
McCullough, a former shop teacher at Saltsburg Middle/High School, was ordered to stand trial on nine counts — sexual assault, intercourse with a student, aggravated indecent assault without consent, corruption of minors, indecent assault without consent, indecent exposure, harassment, disorderly conduct and open lewdness.
The girl testified that sometime in April 2012, when she was a sophomore, McCullough asked to see her breasts. She refused. He later led her into a secluded room off his classroom, where he exposed himself, she said.
“He asked me to follow him, so I did,” the girl testified.
She said she avoided McCullough’s classroom afterward until he called her to his room. She did not have a class with McCullough at the time.
“He was very apologetic, he knew what he did was wrong, and he said he was sorry,” she testified.
While she was in his classroom several days later, McCullough allegedly asked her back into the secluded room and they had sex.
“I wasn’t fighting back or anything,” she testified. “He didn’t force me, he picked me up and put me on the table.”
The girl said she denied any involvement with McCullough to administrators.
When other girls recently reported to the district allegedly unwanted contact with McCullough, state police were led to the girl who had the April 2012 encounter. The Tribune-Review does not identify alleged victims in sexual assault investigations.
“I was just scared because I knew that it would lead to this,” the girl testified. “I didn’t want this to interfere with my life.”
Under cross-examination, the girl said she was frightened during the alleged sexual assault, but she didn’t tell McCullough to stop.
“So you just let him pull your pants down?” asked defense attorney Duke George.
“Yes, I did,” the girl answered.
Later, George denied his client had sex with the girl, who was “infatuated” with McCullough.
“There’s no rape here. This girl had every opportunity to leave. This girl had every opportunity to scream out,” George argued. “This was a situation where she was 16, and it was consensual.”
District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said McCullough was an authority figure who committed a crime.
“She didn’t want to have sex with this man,” Dougherty argued.
Police are investigating claims other female students have made against McCullough. He was suspended without pay by the district when the accusations surfaced last month. He was arrested on Oct. 31 during an administrative meeting at the school.
Rega altered McCullough’s $150,000 cash bail to allow him to post a percentage bond. He was still in the county jail early Wednesday evening.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.