Teacher Daniel Lozada denies sending nude photo to student
EASTHAMPTON — A part-time dance teacher at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School has been charged in Northampton District Court with disseminating obscene material to a minor, a 17-year-old student at the school.
Easthampton police arrested Daniel O. Lozada, 33, of 13 Northampton St., apt. H, at his home at 7:07 a.m. Friday while they executed a search warrant during an investigation initiated by South Hadley police, according to Easthampton Police Chief Bruce McMahon. He said the state police detective unit assigned to the Northwestern district attorney’s office also was involved in the probe.
PVPA Head of School Scott Goldman said Monday that the alleged victim was a 17-year-old student.
Lozada pleaded not guilty to the charge when he appeared in Northampton District Court Monday with his attorney, David Mintz of Hadley.
Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano told Northampton District Court Judge W. Michael Goggins that the obscene material was a photograph of Lozada naked, and that he sent it to the student, along with several sexually suggestive text messages.
Pisano told Goggins that the allegations surfaced after the student told a PVPA guidance counselor that she had received the photograph of Lozada nude. She also said Lozada routinely collected the cellphone numbers of his students, ostensibly to be able to reach them for school-related business.
According to Pisano, the messages and photo were sent to the student Oct. 29, when school was canceled due to superstorm Sandy.
The student claimed Lozada for a couple of weeks prior had been making sexually charged comments about her appearance and desirability that made her uncomfortable, Pisano said.
According to documents in Lozada’s court file, the student told police that Lozada approached her at school asking if she had received the photo he sent.
Lozada initially denied to police sending nude photos of himself to anyone, but admitted to doing so when confronted with a copy of the image, according to police reports.
Lozada told police that he sent the photo after receiving a nude photo of the alleged victim first, Mintz said in court. Pisano said there is no evidence to support that claim.
According to court files, Lozada admitted to police it was “wrong and stupid” to have sent the picture and said he deleted the image he sent as well as the one he claims to have received.
Mintz characterized Lozada’s actions as an “unfortunate lapse in judgment.”
In a statement released Monday, Goldman mentions the arrest of a PVPA teacher, although he does not name Lozada.
“For the past few weeks, I have been cooperating with state and local law enforcement agencies regarding an investigation into an alleged incident concerning the behavior of a newly hired part-time teacher,” he said in the statement.
Goldman said the teacher has been on administrative leave during the investigation.
Lozada was hired in August after the school completed reference and background checks, Goldman said.
“Please know that I have taken all appropriate actions necessary to ensure the continued physical and emotional safety and well-being of our students,” he said. “Our students and their safety are always our highest priority.”
According to a Hampshire Life profile published in March, Lozada is a dance choreographer, performer and instructor who was born in Puerto Rico and is studying to become a nurse.
Easthampton police executed a search warrant at Lozada’s apartment Friday looking for computers and photographs, McMahon said.
Conditions of release
Lozada was released on $250 bail following his arrest Friday. Goggins on Monday set a series of release conditions, including requirements that he report to the probation department, that he have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, that he have no contact with the alleged victim, and that he not use any device for communication of a sexual nature.
Goggins also ordered him not to engage in employment or volunteer work that would put him in contact with anyone under 18, and to allow authorities to examine all devices he has access to that are capable of Internet connection.
Mintz objected to the “no employment” provision on the grounds that it would prevent him from earning income as a dance instructor at three other local venues. He asked Goggins to consider amending it to allow for instructing as long as the students would be supervised by adults present. Goggins did not rule on that request, but it is expected to be taken up at a hearing to be held later in Hampshire Superior Court.
Lozada is due back in district court Jan. 10, 2013, for a pre-trial conference.
According to Mintz, Lozada is also an instructor at the Northeast American School of Dance and the Northampton Athletic Club, both in Northampton, and Pineapple Dance in Amherst.
Charlotte Doyle, owner and artistic director of Pineapple Dance, said she was shocked by the allegation, and said she contacted Lozada by telephone after learning of it and canceled his relationship with the school.
Doyle said she also is sending information to parents and the school community regarding Lozada’s dismissal telling them that he “no longer lives up to the professional standards expected by the school.”
Lozada taught hip-hop dance to children ages 6 to 16, according to Pineapple’s website.
Messages seeking comment from the Northampton Athletic Club and Northeast American School of Dance were not immediately returned.
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