New Details on Harpursville Teacher Accused of Rape

By Leigh Dana

March 2, 2011 Updated Mar 3, 2011 at 8:57 AM EDT

Harpursville, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Harpursville school district learns that one of its teachers is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl.

David Gatto was arrested Tuesday and sent to the Broome County Jail without bail.

"It's terrible. I mean you definitely don't want to have your kids in an environment like that," said Jeremy Hanson.

He's one of many parents in Harpursville, stunned after an honors English high school teacher, 49-year-old David Gatto is charged with raping a 16-year-old student.

"I can't believe it happened in our own community," said 19-year-old, Tiffany White.

The victim was a member of the track and field team which Gatto coached. Authorities say the incident occurred more than a year ago at his Colesville home. The girl didn't speak up until now.

"I know how she's feeling, said Amber White, now 18. She says she was a victim to rape when she was 10. "She just needs to keep her head up high and realize she wasn't in the wrong. It was all his fault."

The district has made the Crime Victims Assistance Center available on site for student or staff who might need its services.

"It's shocking, yes," said Harpursville Superintendent, Kathleen Wood. Gatto had been a teacher at the school for about 23 years and well liked. Wood made this statement to the media Wednesday afternoon:

"The district is made aware of the arrest and charge against this teacher, and is working with the Broome County Sheriff's department in conducting its investigation. After the teacher is released from jail, he will be on administrative leave until such time that the district's investigation has been completed."

At this time, the female victim has been the only one to come forward accusing Gatto of rape. The Broome County Sheriff's office is continuing with its investigation and is asking anyone with information to call them at (607) 778-1186.