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Newton teacher accused of sexual assault was camp counselor, rock climbing instructor at Jewish Community Center

Posted by Evan Allen  January 19, 2012 02:25 PM

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A second-grade Newton teacher accused of sexually assaulting a young girl and filming it worked as a camp counselor and rock climbing teacher for Newton’s Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, according to Carol Trager, vice president of strategy and marketing.

David Ettlinger, 34, of Allston, pleaded not guilty yesterday in West Roxbury District Court to charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and posing a child in a state of nudity, according to the office of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.

He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to related charges of possession of child pornography in Brighton District Court.

Ettlinger was allegedly part of a global child pornography ring called Dreamboard.

Trager said Ettlinger was a camp counselor in the mid-90s at JCC’s Grossman Camp, a summer day camp for children aged four-and-a-half to 15. She said he taught a rock climbing class for elementary school students as recently as 2008.

She said she wasn’t sure how long he held either position, but that he was never a full-time employee.

There were never any complaints about Ettlinger, she said.

“We are extremely scrupulous and we supervise our staff very carefully,” she said. “We heard absolutely nothing about him.”

Trager said that it was unlikely Ettlinger had ever been alone with any children.

“Rock climbing occurs in a gym that’s open, that you can see on all sides,” she said. “All the camp counselors are supervised. It’s an outdoor camp.”

She said that the JCC had received a handful of calls from parents about the news that Ettlinger worked there, but that they were all “highly supportive.”

This afternoon, the JCC sent an email to its members to confirm that Ettlinger had worked at the facility.

"We want to assure you that the JCC carefully supervises all staff and has rigorous hiring practices. We currently have no knowledge of any inappropriate interactions between Mr. Ettlinger and the children in our care, counselors, or other staff,'' said the email from JCC President/CEO Mark Sokoll.

"The care and wellbeing of all of our members is our highest priority,'' he wrote.

Ettlinger is also facing accusations in Louisiana of participating in a child exploitation enterprise in connection to his Dreamboard activities, according to a Suffolk District Attorney spokesman.

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