Fall River teacher arrested for child molestation - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Fall River teacher arrested for child molestation

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FALL RIVER, Mass. (WLNE) -- A Fall River middle school teacher has been accused of child molestation, according to school and law enforcement officials.

Matthew Labriola, a special education teacher at Morton Middle School from Plainville, Mass., was arrested July 12 on charges of second degree child molestation after allegedly groping 9 children ages 12 to 14 at the Providence Place Mall.

Parents living down the street from Morton Middle School in Fall River left shocked.

"It's very unsettling to hear, it's getting my heart beating right now really," says Kyle Camara.

"You shouldn't have to worry that even at a place like the mall, where there's so many people, it's not like its just them and that teacher, to think that something like that could still happen there, it just doesn't make sense to me," says Jordyn Teixeira.

According to court documents, Labriola allegedly bumped into the girls, ages ranging from 12 to 14 years old, and groped their chests. The children were visiting the mall with a group from Wallingford, Conn. Parks and Recreation, and split into smaller groups to explore the mall just before noon.

The girls told a mall security officer that a man purposely bumped into them and groped their bodies. Shortly after, Labriola was spotted riding an escalator, matching the description of the man the girls described. He was taken into custody and his identity was confirmed by the girls.

Providence police are now looking at security footage, raising the possibility there could be more victims.

"We haven't had any more reports from the Providence Place Mall on that but we'll be looking into the suspect more as time goes on," says Major David Lapatin with the Providence PD.

Labriola was charged with five counts of second-degree child molestation and one count of second-degree sexual assault -- all felonies. He is also charged with three misdemeanor counts of simple assault.

He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge Thursday at District Court. His bail was set at $20,000 with surety. Labriola was released on bail July 13.

The office of Fall River Schools Superintendent Matthew H. Malone confirmed that Labriola began working at Morton Middle School in September 2015, and is currently on administrative leave as the police investigation continues.

This arrest comes just months after another special education teacher at the middle school, Henry Tedeschi, was arrested on child pornography charges.

Now parents want to see a change.

"Just looking at them more and not just looking at a resume and saying you went to school, you got a masters, now you're a teacher," says Teixeira.

Labriola will return to District Court in October.

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