Norwich police seek email data from NFA computer data

Norwich — A new police warrant was filed last week seeking nearly 17 months of email communications for several top Norwich Free Academy officials in connection with an investigation into the academy’s initial response to allegations that an assistant coach was having sex with a student.

The now-former coach, Anthony Facchini, 25, was charged on Sept. 12 with two counts of sexual assault for alleged sexual relations with two students in 2017 and 2018. In the investigation, Norwich police are focusing on NFA top officials involved in the school’s initial cursory investigation in April 2017, when the school first learned of a possible illegal sexual relationship between Facchini and a student. Campus Safety Director Kevin Rodino dismissed the allegation after just two days, and none of the NFA officials contacted the student’s parents or the state Department of Children and Families as required by state law.

In the warrant approved by Judge Hillary B. Strackbein, Norwich police Lt. Christopher Conley and Detective Kyle Besse are seeking from Google Legal Investigative Support “all store(d) electronic mail of any kind” from April 24, 2017 – the date Rodino started his investigation – through Sept. 12, 2018, when Facchini was arrested for several NFA personnel.

NFA's email system uses a Google email server. On Nov. 8, police reported to court that they had received a computer data drive containing the Google email files.

Emails were sought for Head of School David Klein, Rodino, Director of Student Affairs John Iovino, Shattuck Building Principal Kristin Peckrul, former Athletic Director Eric Swallow and Guidance Counselor Jessica St. George.

"These affiants believe that preserving, seizing and analyzing the Email data stored on Google email servers is a critical part of this investigation and can verify or disprove accounts of this incident, or lead to further information which will assist in this investigation," police wrote in the warrant application.

The search warrant also seeks “content and connection log files of all activity” for the six NFA officials “including dates, times, methods of connecting, type of connection, ports used, telephone dial-up caller identification records and any other connection information or traffic data.”

This is the second search and seizure warrant filed by police for NFA in connection with the investigation. Police with assistance from the FBI Computer Analysis Response Team on Sept. 12 executed a search and seizure warrant for computers and electronic equipment on campus.

“These Affiants know through training and experience that co-conspirators in the planning, execution and to cover up a particular crime may have communicated about said activities, by way of email communications and or computer generated reports,” Conley and Besse wrote in the warrant application.”

They wrote that the data may be retrieved through forensic examination of computers and email systems even if the emails and documents were deleted.

In the warrant application, Norwich police said that in multiple interviews with NFA officials in their investigation into whether academy officials failed to report the alleged sexual activity involving students, NFA officials repeatedly referenced receiving or sending email communications regarding the internal NFA investigation into the April 2017 allegation against Facchini. And Klein referenced receiving a copy of Rodino's computer-generated investigation reports via email.

In response to previous requests for documents regarding the school's internal investigation, NFA officials provided police with only a redacted version of Rodino's report, and did not provide the contents of a green hard-backed notebook Rodino used during his investigation.

According to information in previous warrants, Rodino told police he closed the investigation after only two days, because Facchini and the alleged student victim both denied the allegations, and Rodino and Klein repeatedly told police the initial report was "vague" and anonymous.

But police learned NFA Curriculum Director Denise Grant made the initial report to Rodino, and she told police she never intended to be anonymous. She also said Rodino knew her voice and phone number, and he called her back to inform her the results of the investigation.

NFA Board of Trustees Chairwoman Sarette Williams issued a written statement in response to a request for comments about the email warrant and a question of whether the board's hired attorney had sought the same email chains during his independent investigation into the school's response.

"Google informed NFA that it had received the warrant in October," Williams  wrote. "The manner in which the investigator conducts his investigation— an outside, independent investigation — is determined within the discretion of the investigator. It would be inappropriate to inquire or speculate about the information the investigator is reviewing or whether he may be granted access to such information by those judicial or law enforcement officials in possession of the information."

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