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Teacher James Parks of Southampton faces charge of raping child

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SOUTHAMPTON — A 54-year-old teacher from Southampton has been charged with aggravated rape of a child.

James L. Parks, of 60 Rattle Hill Road, pleaded innocent to the charge in Northampton District Court on June 24 and is due back in court on Aug. 2 for a pre-trial hearing.

Parks is a grade 7 science teacher at the West Springfield Middle School. Schools Superintendant Russell Johnston said Monday that no students from West Springfield were involved in the case that led police to arrest Parks.

Southampton Police Chief David Silvernail said Parks was arrested at 10 p.m. June 21 after police received a complaint of a sexual crime by Parks against a minor. Silvernail declined to specify where the alleged crime occurred, how Parks knew the girl or give her age, other than to say that she is under 18.

Silvernail said the allegations remain under investigation. He said the department is waiting for the results of forensic tests.

After arresting Parks, police searched his home, taking computers and other evidence, Silvernail said.

Johnston said that Parks was arrested the day after students finished school. Staff were taking part in professional development through June 24, Johnston said, and school officials learned of the arrest later in the week.

“While this case is proceeding, he will not be permitted on school grounds,” Johnston said of Parks. Because it is a personnel issue, Johnston said he could not comment on whether Parks is still employed by the West Springfield schools.

Johnston said school officials are arranging for counselors to be available to talk with students or anyone else affected by the news of Parks’ arrest. Johnston community will be alerted when counseling is available.

Johnston, who was out of town Monday, said he did not know how long Parks had worked for the West Springfield schools.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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