SARANAC LAKE - A Saranac Lake Central School teacher and coach is denying allegations he sexually abused an 11-year-old girl.
Dermott P. Morgan, 43, Saranac Lake, was arrested by state police March 13 on charges of second degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
Morgan, a lifelong resident of Saranac Lake and former Marine, teaches physical education at Petrova Elementary-Middle School and coaches several local sports teams from the youth to varsity levels. He is also co-owner of Morgan's 11, a local restaurant. He has no prior convictions.
The charges stem from an investigation by Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers in Ray Brook into allegations made by an underage female from Saranac Lake. Morgan is accused of having sexual bodily contact with an 11-year-old girl in the village in early October 2008.
Morgan's lawyer, Paul DerOhannesian II of DerOhannesian and DerOhannesian Law Firm in Albany, said the allegations are unrelated to his capacity as a teacher or coach. Nonetheless, Morgan has requested a leave of absence from his teaching position to avoid being a distraction.
DerOhannesian said the allegations against Morgan are false and "filled with motive and pretense."
"There are many pieces to this puzzle that are missing, and Mr. Morgan looks forward to his day in court when he is finally able to question these charges," said DerOhannesian. "There is a serious lack of credibility in this case, reflected in the decision to wait many months to arrest Mr. Morgan on misdemeanor, not felony, charges."
Arraigned before North Elba town justice James Rogers, Morgan pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on his own recognizance. He is scheduled reappear in the town of North Elba court April 6.