|David Castricone listened to his lawyer in court yesterday. (Associated Press/Pool)|
Coach seen in girls dressing area, DA says in porn case
Allegedly carried recording device
NORTH ANDOVER — David Castricone forged New England’s winningest wrestling program, but authorities say he also kept a stash of child pornography at home and repeatedly sneaked into the girls’ locker room at the high school carrying what appeared to be an electronic recording device.
After a female student reported an older male in the girls’ locker room and school officials reviewed surveillance footage, it was determined that Castricone was entering the locker room, Jennifer Kunsch, assistant Essex district attorney, said yesterday during his arraignment on a charge of possession of child pornography.
John Baccari, Castricone’s attorney, entered a plea of not guilty on his client’s behalf, and the defendant posted a $1,500 cash bail and was released. He is due back in Lawrence District Court March 30 for a pretrial conference. He could not be reached for comment about the allegations, which have stunned the athletic community.
Three days after the female student reported the incident on Feb. 7 to school officials, they reported it to police, who showed up at Castricone’s residence on Court Street on Feb. 11 with a search warrant.
On the premises, police said they found 77 pages of photographs of females who appeared unaware they were having their picture taken, 129 images of child erotica, and eight images of child pornography, according to a police report.
Authorities also confiscated a laptop and desktop computers, MP3 players, a handheld video camera, and two cellphones with video capabilities. Authorities also found a memory card in Castricone’s staff locker at North Andover High School.
Kunsch said Castricone, 60, went into the girls’ locker room a total of nine times in January and this month and stayed there for two to seven minutes. She did not allege that he took pictures or video footage inside the locker room, but said the investigation is ongoing. Details included in the police report suggest that Castricone was at least preparing to take pictures or video.
On Feb. 7, the day the female student allegedly saw Castricone in the locker room, the school’s video surveillance captured images of the defendant returning to the locker room two hours later. As he walked out the door, he was holding an electronic device with an LED screen. He appeared to manipulate the device, according to the report.
The witness also said the man had his hands inside a locker. Authorities lifted what appeared to be a large thumb print from the locker and noted in the report that, “the height of the locker shelf would allow for a full view of the majority of the lockers on the north wall, specifically the student’s locker, if a recording device had been placed inside.’’
On Feb. 10, police interviewed the school’s athletic director, who said he had had a random conversation with Castricone Feb. 7 and that Castricone said he was planning a trip to Brazil to open up a factory making thong underwear.
Castricone, the owner of Castricone Roofing and Siding in North Andover, resigned from his $6,000-a-year coaching position Monday.
At the end of classes yesterday, students said the school’s atmosphere was strained, given the allegations against a beloved and respected member of the school staff.
“A lot of my friends are on the wrestling team, and he seemed like a good guy and a great coach,’’ said Alex MacMillan, 15, a male freshman. “. . . This was out of the blue, because I didn’t expect to hear anything bad about him, so it’s kind of surprising.’’
“I’m really concerned, and I know my wife would be,’’ said Wayne Stanuchenski, waiting in his sport utility vehicle for his daughter Danielle, 15, a freshman, to arrive.
According to the police report, Castricone said he was having a “tough time’’ because his wife had started going to Florida for the winter, and he was by himself. He said he “gets anxious’’ because his son had died and that he had been seeing a counselor. He also told authorities he went into the girls’ locker room to look for a scale used to weigh competitors in wrestling matches. There are two girls on his wrestling team.
Castricone has coached wrestling in Massachusetts for 38 years, 25 years with the Knights, who are third all-time in the nation in victories and first in New England. The team will be led by assistant coach Carl Cincotta as they attempt to defend their Division 2 state title today.
Baccari said his client, prior to yesterday, had an “unsullied reputation’’ and was highly regarded in the community.
Brian R. Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.