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Former NFA campus safety director granted accelerated rehabilitation

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Kevin Rodino, former Norwich Free Academy campus safety director, regrets how an initial allegation that a coach was having sexual relations with a student was handled by school officials in April 2017, but the incident should not define the career of the 61-year-old retired state trooper, his attorney told a Norwich Superior Court judge Friday.

Rodino faced several charges in connection with his role in the internal investigation at NFA into the allegation that former coach Anthony Facchini had engaged in sexual relations with a student. The allegation first surfaced in April 2017 but was quickly dismissed as unsubstantiated. Rodino was charged Feb. 25 with failure to report suspected child abuse, tampering with evidence, issuing a false statement and interfering with a police officer.

Facchini was charged Sept. 12, 2018, with two counts of second-degree sexual assault after a second allegation surfaced in June 2018, which launched the police investigation. Facchini’s next court date is Oct. 17 in New London Superior Court.

Judge Nuala E. Droney on Friday first dismissed the charge of failure to report suspected child abuse, because the one-year statute of limitations had expired on that charge, and granted Rodino’s application for accelerated rehabilitation, which would clear his record after one year if he avoids future arrest.

He was ordered to do 20 hours of community service, which Droney said would not be a problem for a man who has devoted his career to public service.

Attorney Paul Chinigo, who represented Rodino, highlighted his long career as a state trooper, which included numerous awards and accolades. Rodino also served as a K-9 officer at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Chinigo said.

Letters were sent to the two alleged victims and to the Norwich Police Department, and none had objections to the granting of accelerated rehabilitation, Droney said.

The charges against Rodino stemmed from the police investigation into how the school handled the first allegation of a sexual relationship between Facchini and a student in April 2017, when school officials dismissed the allegation after both Facchini and the student denied the claim. No school officials reported the allegation to the state Department of Children and Families as required by state law.

When police questioned Rodino in June 2018, the arrest warrant stated, he referred to notes in a green hard-backed notebook. But when police executed a search warrant on campus, the notes could not be found, and some 80 pages were ripped out of a green hard-backed notebook found in the campus safety office, police said. Rodino’s statements to police also allegedly contradicted statements by other NFA officials.

Chinigo said Rodino regrets how the incident was handled — “hindsight is always 20-20,” he said — but he said Rodino did report the allegations to NFA Head of School David Klein, then-Athletic Director Eric Swallow and Director of Student Affairs John Iovino. Chinigo said the school administrators had more education and knowledge in such matters.

An independent investigation by the NFA board of trustees cleared Klein of wrongdoing and authorized him to take any administrative actions based on the school's initial investigation. Rodino and two other NFA staffers were placed on paid leave, and Rodino submitted his retirement letter June 30. The two others were reinstated at the start of the school year after brief unpaid suspensions.

When Rodino was arrested on Feb. 25, police released a letter from State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan stating that other warrants Norwich police sought on charges of failure to report suspected child abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, could not be approved because the one-year statute of limitations had expired on those charges.

Chinigo also said Rodino was the one who told police in June 2018 that there had been a previous allegation against Facchini.

“Mr. Rodino does not want this one incident to define his career,” Chinigo told the court.

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