Trial begins for ex-Bellport teacher, Jonathan Elsalam, accused of having sex with teen

RIVERHEAD - The rape trial of a former Bellport High School teacher and coach accused of having sex with a former student got underway today.

Prosecutors say Jonathan Elsalam had a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl between December 2011 and May 2012. Elsalam faces seven sex crimes charges.

Prosecutors say they have evidence implicating the 28-year-old, including text messages confiscated by Principal Timothy Hogan. Hogan testified today that the teenager became upset while discussing her relationship with Elsalam.

Also called to the stand today was the alleged victim's best friend, who appeared visibly shaken during her testimony, and seemed concerned about the girl's well-being.

Elsalam pleaded not guilty, and his attorney told News 12 that the trial may show that Elsalam made poor choices, but he insists his client is innocent.

The South Country Central School District removed Elsalam from his teaching and coaching duties in October 2012.

The trial is expected to resume tomorrow morning.

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