Former Bellport High School teacher Jonathon Elsalam, of Ridge, acquitted of rape charges, convicted of misdemeanor

A former teacher and coach at Bellport High School has been acquitted of rape and criminal sexual act charges.

As News 12 has reported, prosecutors claimed Jonathon Elsalam, 28, of Ridge, started a sexual relationship with a East Patchogue girl when she was 16. They said the couple met for sex three to four times a week over the yearlong relationship. The girl is now 18.

The jury acquitted Elsalam of six charges, two counts of rape in the third degree and four counts of criminal sexual act in the third degree. He faced eight years in prison.

He was convicted of one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child.

Elsalam's attorney says his client made poor choices, but maintains the prosecution should never have brought charges.

In a statement, he says, "Jon and I were very gratified with the verdict. It was very fair. The jury determined the alleged victim was not believable. If in fact there wasn't any interference from the school and authorities, Jon and this girl would have married and had children. Now, my client has lost his job, his pension and reputation."

The victim's family is still suing the South Country School District for $10 million in a separate federal civil suit. They claim the school knew about the relationship and did nothing.

Elsalam will be sentenced on May 9. He faces one year in jail.

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