BY MARTHA SHANAHAN
WOLCOTT – A Wolcott physical education teacher is facing charges after an accusation that he inappropriately touched a female student, according to his lawyer.
On Thursday, Wolcott police arrested Michael Forgione, a longtime Wolcott High School teacher and the nine-year coach of Southington’s girls basketball team, charging him with fourth-degree sexual assault, risk of injury to a minor and second-degree breach of peace.
Forgione was placed on administrative leave with pay after a student filed a complaint against him on May 3, Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens said in a news release Thursday.
He remains on paid leave, Superintendent Anthony Gasper said in a statement emailed to the Republican-American Thursday night.
School officials investigated the complaint and immediately reported it to the state Department of Children and Families and Wolcott police, Gasper said.
The States Attorney’s office in Waterbury determined there was probable cause for his arrest.
Forgione turned himself in to police after they issued a warrant for his arrest on Thursday, Stephens said. He was released after posting a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on Thursday.
Forgione denies the charges and plans to plead not guilty, said his lawyer. In a phone interview Thursday night, attorney Ioannis Kaloidis said the complaint stemmed from a single incident in May in which a female student accused him of touching her in class.
Forgione denies having any contact with the student and is “100% not guilty,” Kaloidis said. “He’s an innocent man who’s been wrongly accused, and now his name’s going to be dragged through the mud,” he said.
The Wolcott High School website lists Forgione, who lives in Plantsville, as a ninth-grade teacher in the school’s wellness department.
Kaloidis said Forgione immediately went to police after he became aware of the complaint and has cooperated and consistently denied the allegations throughout the investigation.
“He was confident that there wouldn’t even be an arrest,” he said. “We were really disappointed that the State Attorney’s office decided to pursue this.”
Forgione resigned in March after nine seasons coaching girls basketball in Southington. He also coached basketball in Farmington and Wethersfield and had a successful run as a girls track and field coach at Bristol Central from 1996 to 2016.
Kaloidis said he did not know why Forgione resigned from his Southington coaching position but said he did not believe the resignation was related to any accusations of wrongdoing.
“This guy has been a girl’s coach…for 20 years,” he said. “There’s never ever been a complaint against him.”