Newsday/Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Joseph Acosta, a 38 year old Bellport Middle School teacher, was arrested May 5th and arraignedon May 6, 2003, on one count of third degree sodomy and three counts of endangering the welfare ofa child. Two weeks before, a parent complained that Acosta was sending sexually explicit e-mailmessages to his 12 and 13 year old students. Suffolk detectives seized his computer and poredthrough its contents. What they found suggested that Acosta was doing more than conversinginappropriately. Mr. Acosta met with a 16 year old boy on more than one occasion and engaged indeviant sexual intercourse with that boy, Computer Crimes Det. Michael Connolly said. The victim,a Suffolk County resident, is not a student in Bellport. Using the screen names LKG4YGUY andJOSEPHANY, police said, he met his teenage victim online in 2002. Acosta was suspended with paypending the outcome of the criminal charges and was being held at Suffolk County jail in Riverheadon $150,000 bond.

Acosta pleaded guilty on March 29, 2004, to statutory sodomy of the boy. In return for his pleato third degree sodomy, Suffolk County Court Judge Louis Ohlig promised to sentence him to 3 monthsin jail and 10 years' probation.

After his client was led away in handcuffs to begin serving the three month jail sentenceyesterday morning, attorney Eric Naiburg walked outside the Riverhead courtroom and recounted howpoor judgment had led to the former teacher's downfall.

Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, a Stony Brook child advocacy group,said Acosta should be seen as a predator. He's not accepting responsibility by saying it wasconsensual, she said. That's why we have laws to protect children. Minors can't consent to sexualcontact with an adult.

Despite letters of support from parents and co-workers, Acosta cannot be employed as a teacherbecause of this registered sex offender status, and he has been working as a busboy. Naiberg saidhe has asked that Acosta be kept from the general jail population because he fears for hissafety.

(New York)