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North Stonington previously fired coach now charged in Plainfield sexual assault case

North Stonington — Superintendent of Schools Peter Nero said Thursday that he immediately fired former Wheeler High School boys' basketball coach Craig N. McCue when he received a complaint about him in January that involved inappropriate behavior. 

In a separate incident, McCue, 31, of 118 Main St., was arrested Tuesday in Plainfield and now faces two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and seven counts of risk of injury to a minor after police say he had inappropriate relationships with minors and provided marijuana to at least one.

Craig N. McCue
Craig N. McCue

Police said all the victims at the time were under the age of 16 and were either students, former students or players he had coached. McCue was formerly an eighth grade social studies teacher and coach at Plainfield Central School. He is now being held on a $99,999 bond after appearing in Danielson Superior Court on Wednesday.

Nero said McCue had coached from 2015 until January 20, 2021, at Wheeler High School. He said McCue also had been a substitute teacher at times in the system. Nero stressed the school system had never received a complaint about McCue until the day before he fired him in January.

He said the incident involved four players on the basketball team and took place outside school hours, off school property and not during a school-sanctioned event. He declined to offer more details due to the ongoing investigation by police and the state Department of Children and Families.

In the affidavit for McCue's arrest warrant in Plainfield, police wrote that they learned about the alleged incident in North Stonington. Police wrote that on the way back from a basketball game, McCue and four players ages 14 and 15 stopped to buy snacks and drinks and McCue purchased condoms for the boys and began talking about having sex with girls. It is unclear why the boys were traveling in a car with McCue. Police said they also learned that on other occasions, McCue allegedly touched one of the boys on the leg while in a car with him and commented about another boy's genitals. They said McCue admitted to buying the condoms but denied the other allegations.

Nero said after receiving information about McCue on Jan. 19, the next morning Principal Kristen St. Germain investigated, and that afternoon Nero called McCue and fired him.

"The information that I had was enough for me to say to him 'you're done,'" Nero said.

Nero said he also reported the incident as mandated by state law to DCF, which said it would alert authorities. He said he also notified and met with the parents of the involved students. In a Wednesday letter to parents and members of the school community in the wake of McCue's arrest, Nero wrote that since the alleged incident in January, the school system has continued to cooperate with police, DCF and the state Department of Education.

The affidavits for McCue's arrest warrants in Plainfield state that on May 15, police received a complaint from the stepfather of a 15-year-old student that a teacher named Craig had given the boy marijuana and was exchanging inappropriate text messages with the boy. When the boy sent a shirtless photo to McCue, police wrote that McCue responded with messages such as "that's kinda hot."

While police said McCue admitted to giving the boy and another juvenile marijuana, he said he was "straight" and "not a pedophile." When McCue let police look at his phone, they said they found numerous photos of shirtless boys posing and flexing. 

Another boy alleged that when McCue gave him rides, he touched the boy's genitals on a couple occasions and asked the boy to show him his genitals. One boy said McCue also sent him a photo of his genitals when he was high. There are also allegations McCue gave the boy a brownie laced with marijuana. McCue told police he went to the gym with the boys and gave them rides. 

j.wojtas@theday.com

Editor's Note: The Day does not allow commenting on stories in which alleged sexual assault victims are not identified.

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