Avondale High School teacher charged with criminal sexual conduct

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published October 9, 2018

 Donaghy

Donaghy

A 47-year-old Avondale High School teacher faces charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred 18 years ago.

Aaron Keith Donaghy was arraigned in 52-4 District Court Oct. 9 on three counts of criminal sexual conduct for incidents involving a student that allegedly occurred from 1999 to 2000 at the Somerset Park Apartments, near Coolidge Highway and Maple Road, where police said Donaghy, a teacher at Avondale High School since 1997, lived at the time.

He remains free on $75,000 personal bond and is to have no contact with the former student or any children under 18 years old, other than his own children.

His probable cause hearing was set for Oct. 18.

According to Troy Police Sgt. Meghan Lehman, the allegations involved a then-15-year-old student at Avondale High School.

“There was an extensive investigation. Every allegation is taken on its own merit.” Lehman said. “Many people from that time frame were interviewed.”

Lehman said that upon investigation, police determined that there was an ongoing relationship at the time between the then-student and Donaghy.

Lehman said that the former student came forward to the Avondale School District in December 2017, and district officials reported it to police and placed Donaghy on immediate leave. At press time, Donaghy was listed in the staff directory on the Avondale School District website.

Annette McAvoy, public relations and communications supervisor for the Avondale School District, confirmed that Donaghy was placed on leave since December and will remain in that status until the Board of Education takes any action.

The district issued a statement.

“Today Avondale School District was notified by the Troy Police Department that Avondale High School teacher Aaron Donaghy was arraigned on criminal charges in 52-4 District Court. The charges are related to an alleged inappropriate relationship with a former student while she was enrolled in Avondale High School in 1999. Mr. Donaghy is not and has not been teaching in the district since December 2017, when he was placed on administrative leave when the allegations first came to the attention of the District.

“The district has fully cooperated with law enforcement officials throughout the 10-month investigation. To protect the integrity of the criminal investigation process and the rights of all parties involved, the district did not publicly disclose any information while the investigation was pending.

“While the allegations appear to have occurred away from school and happened more than 18 years ago, we will nonetheless make additional resources available for students and staff who feel they are struggling with processing this disturbing information,” said Superintendent James Schwarz, in the prepared statement. “The safety and welfare of our students and staff are always our first concern.”

Rochester Community Schools superintendent Robert Shaner also released a prepared statement.

“Mr. Donaghy worked seasonally as a varsity girls’ soccer coach at Adams High School from 2007 until December 2017 when he resigned. Donaghy also worked intermittently within the Rochester Community School District in the mid-to-late 1990s as a substitute and temporary teacher, and from 2003-2005 as a boys’ soccer coach at Stoney Creek High School.”

“While the allegations appear to have occurred more than 18 years ago, Adams High School administrators are working closely with our counselors so as to make resources available to our students and staff who may be having difficulty processing this disturbing information.

“As always, we appreciate your support in encouraging your son or daughter to talk to a trusted adult if they see, hear, or experience something that doesn't seem right. They can also anonymously report information using OK2SAY at https://www.michigan.gov/ok2say.”

Donaghy’s attorney, Steven Schwartz, said via email that Donaghy has entered a not guilty plea to all allegations.

“I will fiercely defend these allegations made against my client from two decades ago,” Schwartz said. “We have not yet received evidence from the Prosecutor’s Office.

“Mr. Donaghy, whom has never been in trouble with the law, is a beloved educator and pillar of the community. In 2017, (he) traveled to Haiti to build greenhouses. In 2007 he helped build orphanages and health clinics in Tanzania. Mr. Donaghy also headed the Avondale leadership program for over 10 years to give back to the community.”