Northeast High staffer transferred after sex accusation

The North­east High School staff mem­ber ac­cused of hav­ing sex with a stu­dent con­tin­ues to work for the city’s pub­lic school dis­trict, al­though he no longer has of­fi­cial con­tact with stu­dents.

Mark Pre­ston Wil­li­ams has been trans­ferred from North­east and in­to an un­dis­closed ad­min­is­trat­ive job, ac­cord­ing to Fernando Gal­lard, a School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia spokes­man. The dis­trict is seek­ing to sus­pend Wil­li­ams without pay pending the out­come of his crim­in­al case, but sus­pen­sion pro­ceed­ings were pending last Thursday, Gal­lard said.

Fur­ther de­tails about Wil­li­ams’ per­son­nel file, in­clud­ing his ten­ure with the school dis­trict, were not avail­able, Gal­lard said.

The dis­trict spokes­man de­scribed Wil­li­ams as a “staff mem­ber in the dean of stu­dents of­fice” at North­east. The Phil­adelphia Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice had er­ro­neously iden­ti­fied Wil­li­ams as the dean in a March 12 news re­lease in which the pro­sec­utor an­nounced Wil­li­ams’ ar­rest.

Wil­li­ams, 56, is ac­cused of hav­ing sex with a 17-year-old fe­male North­east stu­dent and is charged with in­sti­tu­tion­al sexu­al as­sault of a stu­dent, un­law­ful con­tact with a minor, cor­rup­tion of a minor, en­dan­ger­ing the wel­fare of a child and in­ter­fer­ence with the cus­tody of a child.

The al­leged sexu­al activ­ity did not oc­cur on school grounds, Gal­lard said. A source with know­ledge of the case told the North­east Times that the charges stem from an in­cid­ent or in­cid­ents that oc­curred at the de­fend­ant’s West Chester-area home. The vic­tim’s par­ent learned of the al­leged sexu­al activ­ity and re­por­ted it to Phil­adelphia po­lice, the source said.

Court doc­u­ments state that the al­leged crimes oc­curred on Jan. 13.

Phil­adelphia po­lice in­formed the school dis­trict of the al­leg­a­tions in Feb­ru­ary, Gal­lard said. The dis­trict im­me­di­ately trans­ferred Wil­li­ams in­to a non-school set­ting. Ac­cord­ing to the dis­trict spokes­man, Wil­li­ams’ du­ties at North­east in­volved ad­min­is­ter­ing dis­cip­line. He would have had dir­ect con­tact with stu­dents.

“My un­der­stand­ing is he would handle spe­cif­ic com­plaints deal­ing with stu­dents’ be­ha­vi­or,” Gal­lard said.

Wil­li­ams’ name does not ap­pear on the staff dir­ect­ory of North­east High’s Web site. The school prin­cip­al did not re­spond to a tele­phone mes­sage re­quest­ing com­ment.

The school dis­trib­uted let­ters to stu­dents and staff in­form­ing them of “what oc­curred” and of­fer­ing them coun­sel­ing ser­vices, Gal­lard said. The school dis­trict is un­aware of any oth­er com­plaints against Wil­li­ams.

The school dis­trict has launched its own in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the case, but the dis­trict will await the out­come of the crim­in­al pro­ceed­ings against Wil­li­ams be­fore act­ing fur­ther on its own find­ings, Gal­lard said. Wil­li­ams pos­ted 10 per­cent of $50,000 bail and was freed from po­lice cus­tody on March 13. He is sched­uled for a pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing on April 2. ••

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