A former teaching assistant in the Locust Valley Central School District was arrested on July 24 in Melville after allegedly going to a hotel intending to have sex with a 13-year-old boy he met online, according to multiple news sources.
Charles Bull, 53, of Sea Cliff, worked in the district for two years, Pam Kaplan, the LVCSD director of communications, said. During the 2017-18 school year, he was a teaching assistant in the music department at Bayville and Locust Valley intermediate schools. In 2018-19 he was a leave-replacement music teacher at Locust Valley Middle School.
“The district has been notified by law enforcement authorities of the arrest of Charles Bull for allegedly soliciting online sex with a minor,” a statement provided by the district read. “Bull . . . will not be hired back. The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority. This individual passed all necessary background checks in accordance with New York State Law prior to working with the district.”
Bull is the second music teacher from the district to be arrested on child predation charges in the past decade. Elementary music teacher John Benstock admitted in Nassau County court in February 2013 that he had inappropriate sexual contact with 14 students under age 11 in classrooms and in their homes, where he gave them private lessons.
Bayville parent Jen Jones, who has a son entering Locust Valley High School this fall, said that she and other parents are now wondering about whom the district is bringing into its schools. “Most of us are really concerned that this is not the first time this has happened in our district,” she said, “and it really makes us question the hiring process in our schools.”
It is particularly troubling, Jones said, that both Benstock and Bull worked in the music department. Music teachers often work with students one on one or in small groups, she added, which is of great concern to her. She also said that there needs to be more than a simple background check when vetting potential hires, because she believes that is not enough to keep district children safe.
The FBI began tracking Bull in a chat room called “LongIslandDLMenOnly” on mobile-messaging app Kik on July 23, according to Newsday. He spoke to an undercover FBI agent who Bull thought was a father vacationing on Long Island with his 13-year-old son. Bull asked about the father’s and son’s sexual orientation, and said he was interested in having sex with the child.
News reports stated that Bull and the undercover agent met at a Farmingdale coffee shop under FBI surveillance, and the agent told him that the boy was in a room at a Melville hotel. Bull arrived at the hotel room the next day with three condoms and an Xbox gift card, and was arrested.
Former Bayville Village Trustee Tim Charon, a father of two children who will start third grade at Bayville Intermediate and first grade at Bayville Primary next month, said he was “speechless,” and thankful that no children were hurt. “It’s absolutely terrible,” Charon said. “It’s every parent’s worst fear that there are predators around your children.”
James Versocki, a Sea Cliff father of an 11-year-old, said he usually feels secure about his son’s safety, because village parents do a good job of taking care of one another’s children. Nonetheless, he said, it is still important to monitor who comes into contact with them.
“Parents have to be vigilant,” Versocki said, “and as much as we live in a safer world, you’ve just got to know who your neighbors are.”
According to a person with knowledge of Bull’s career who declined to be identified, he worked as a music teacher in the East Williston school district for two years earlier this decade, but was denied tenure after a number of parents complained that his demeanor around students made them uncomfortable.
At a hearing in federal court in Central Islip on July 25, Bull was charged with using electronic media to have sex with a minor, and held without bail. If convicted, he would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Laura Lane contributed to this story.