Attorney for alleged sexual assault victim questions Norwich Free Academy's response

Norwich — An attorney representing one of the alleged minor victims in a sexual assault case involving an ex-assistant coach at Norwich Free Academy said his client’s family has concerns about how the academy handled the investigation, including a delay in firing the coach and notifying parents.

Former NFA assistant coach Anthony Facchini was charged on Sept. 12 with two counts of second-degree sexual assault after a police investigation allegedly revealed he had sexual relations with two NFA students beginning in 2017, while he was on staff at the school.

School records showed that Facchini was assistant coach for indoor and outdoor track and football starting in spring of 2017 and was strength and conditioning coach in the 2017-18 school year. He was fired on July 12, weeks after police launched the investigation in June 2018.

Facchini will be arraigned Thursday in Norwich Superior Court.

New London attorney Jason Burdick, who filed an appearance in court Sept. 14 on behalf of “Jane Doe,” said that, to protect his client’s privacy, he could not disclose specifics of his client’s case or say which of the two alleged victims he is representing.

Burdick said his client’s family has “serious concerns” about how NFA handled the investigation into the allegations and questioned the timing of actions taken by school officials.

He said the family has requested documents and information from the academy on the status of the school’s internal investigation, what happened to his client, who at NFA was aware of the alleged sexual relations and what steps were taken to address the situation.

“There’s really been zero communication from NFA as far as my client is concerned,” Burdick said. “I would think after 90 days, they would have some answers.”

Burdick also objected to NFA officials repeatedly saying they cannot comment on personnel matters.

"It's not a personnel matter," Burdick said. "It's a criminal investigation."

NFA officials declined to comment on Burdick’s statements Wednesday night.

In a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Day seeking employment, disciplinary and termination records, NFA released the one-sentence termination letter sent to Facchini on July 12, a series of employment contracts and payment records showing he was paid a total of $11,708. NFA Head of School David Klein said all records pertaining to the request were provided. No information indicating the reason for the termination or any disciplinary action was provided.

Burdick said he did not know if the resignation of three-year Athletic Director Eric Swallow on Sept. 10 — two days before Facchini was charged — was related to the police investigation.

“If staff knew, they shouldn’t be allowed to resign,” Burdick said. “They should have been fired.”

Burdick questioned why school officials did not investigate the earlier relationship, which police said was in 2017, and why it took weeks after police launched the investigation in June 2018 to fire Facchini.

He also disputed NFA officials’ comments that the school had kept parents informed about the investigation and that parents had not expressed concerns about it. He said his client’s parents have expressed those concerns.

NFA sent its first email message to parents on Saturday, Aug. 25 — the same day Norwich police acknowledged to the media that they were conducting “an active investigation into alleged sexual assaults that occurred involving an employee of Norwich Free Academy and student(s),” the police release said.

NFA sent a second message to parents Sept. 12 following the arrest that day and an afternoon of police presence on campus. According to a Norwich police news release, city officers were assisted by the state police Computer Crimes Unit and the FBI’s Computer Analysis Response Team in executing a search and seizure warrant at NFA.

The arrest warrant and the search and seizure warrant have been sealed. A motion for the search warrant seal, filed by Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas M. DeLillo and approved by New London Superior Court Judge Nuala Droney, said the search “is part of an ongoing investigation which would be adversely affected by the disclosure of the information contained in the application and affidavit.”

“I think a large part of this is NFA acting to protect their interests above the students’ interest,” Burdick said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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