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Former NFA coach Anthony Facchini pleads no contest to reduced charges

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Former Norwich Free Academy assistant coach Anthony Facchini pleaded no contest to reduced charges of risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment Thursday in New London Superior Court and will receive a fully suspended sentence when he is sentenced on Feb. 10.

Facchini, 26, of 210 Broadway, Norwich, had faced two counts of second-degree sexual assault in connection with allegations he had sexual relations with two minor students while he was a coach at the Norwich Free Academy in 2017 and 2018.

The risk of injury charge applied to a female who was 15 to 16 years old during his relationship with her. That charge carries a five-year fully suspended sentence and five years of probation.

He pleaded no contest to one count of reckless endangerment in connection with a relationship with a female who was 17 to 18 years old. He will be sentenced to six months fully suspended and two years of probation on that charge.

The sentences will run concurrently.

Facchini declined to comment upon leaving the courtroom.

Victim Services Advocate LeeAnn Vertefeuille told Judge Hillary B. Strackbein on Thursday that the office made repeated attempts to contact the older victim with no success. The younger victim is represented by an attorney and responded that his client had no objection to the proposed plea deal and that the victim did not want to testify at a possible trial in the case.

When Facchini is sentenced, it will mark the final court action in the controversy that has rocked NFA since Norwich police launched their investigation into the allegations in June 2018. A coach at the academy reported to the state Department of Children and Families in June 2018 that Facchini allegedly was having sexual relations with a student.

During that investigation, police learned there was an earlier victim with whom Facchini had engaged in sexual relations in 2017.

Police obtained search and seizure warrants for extensive documents, computer equipment and cellphones connected to NFA’s internal investigation in April 2017, when school officials quickly dismissed the allegations without reporting to DCF, as required by state law. Head of School David Klein, then-Athletic Director Eric Swallow, Director of Student Affairs John Iovino and Campus Safety Director Kevin Rodino had met to discuss the allegations and closed the case after both Facchini and the student denied the relationship.

Police on Feb. 25, 2019 charged Rodino with failure to report suspected child abuse, tampering with evidence, issuing a false statement and interfering with a police officer.

On Sept. 20, Norwich Superior Court Judge Nuala E. Droney dismissed the charge of failure to report suspected child abuse, because the one-year statute of limitations had expired on that charge. She granted Rodino’s application for accelerated rehabilitation, which would clear his record after one year if he avoids future arrest, on the remaining charges.

New London State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan had informed Norwich police at the time of Rodino’s arrest that requests for arrest warrants against three other NFA officials on charges of failure to report the incidents to DCF were rejected because the statute of limitations had expired.

A separate investigation by the NFA board of trustees cleared Klein of any wrongdoing and authorized him to oversee any administrative discipline connected with the school’s response to the allegations. Klein suspended Rodino with pay until he retired June 30 and suspended with pay then-Director of Curriculum Denise Grant and Director of Physical and Health Education Susan Hopkins-Terrell. Both had learned of the initial allegation and reported it to Rodino but not to DCF.

Hopkins-Terrell agreed to a three-day unpaid suspension prior to the start of the 2019-20 school year and was reinstated. Grant was ordered to take a 10-day unpaid suspension and was reassigned to a newly created position as director of college and career resource center.

Grant has filed suit against NFA for allegedly retaliating against her for her cooperation with Norwich police during their investigation of the allegations against Facchini and the school’s response to the April 2017 initial allegation.

Editor's Note: This version clarifies that Anthony Facchini pleaded no contest to reduced charges.

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