A Pennsylvania high school industrial arts teacher allegedly raped a 16-year-old student in a back room at the school and authorities have not ruled out the possibility of additional victims and charges in the case.
Todd McCullough, a 28-year-old teacher at Saltsburg High School, was arraigned Thursday on rape and related charges in connection to the April 2012 incident that state police say occurred in a back room near the shop where McCullough taught. But police only learned of the alleged assault last week after another student told school officials she was hearing rumors that she was “next on the list” of McCullough’s potential targets, Trooper John Matchik said.
"This could be the tip of the iceberg."
- Trooper John Matchik
“More or less, the situation surfaced when another female student came forward and said she was hearing rumors that she was next on the list or that she’d be one of his targets,” Matchik said. “She wanted everybody to be aware of that.”
A subsequent investigation revealed that McCullough had been physically touching the girl’s hips and shoulders for years and frequently commented on her appearance, Matchik said.
Then, in April 2012, as the girl was readying for a school dance, including trips to a tanning salon, McCullough asked the girl if he could see her breasts. The girl repeatedly rebuffed the advance before McCullough eventually exposed himself to the girl in a back room near the shop where he taught, Matchik said.
The girl was able to escape that encounter when the school bell rang, Matchik said, but a week later, McCullough allegedly pulled the girl out of another class to apologize. A few days later, McCullough allegedly asked the girl to stay after class before raping her in the back room, Matchik said.
Investigators are now probing whether McCullough, a five-year veteran of the school, committed other crimes while teaching, Matchik said.
“There’s a good chance additional charges could be pending,” he said. “This could be the tip of the iceberg.”
McCullough, who remains jailed at Indiana County Jail, doesn’t have an attorney and declined comment after his arraignment Thursday. He is due to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 13.
The Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, meanwhile, said it has been cooperating with police since the allegations surfaced.
“At the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District, we believe that the safety and welfare of our students is of the utmost importance,” a statement on its website reads. “The administration of the Blairsville-Saltsburg School District has conducted an internal investigation of a professional employee of the district and believes the employee has violated the policies of the district as well as the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The district administration has worked closely with the Pennsylvania State Police in this matter. The district will cooperate fully with the Pennsylvania State Police and any and all criminal investigations.”
The statement continued: “Every effort has been and will continue to be made to protect our students and staff from any conduct that would affect their health, safety, and welfare. No additional comment will be made by the district or its representatives at this time.”