Harrington teacher faces sex abuse charges, active investigation
HARRINGTON, Del. – A middle school gym teacher turned himself in on Friday, after police say he sexually abused at least three children.
Police tell 47 ABC they’ve been investigating accusations against Richard Ford since January. Investigators say the 63-year-old had no prior record before these charges. While the investigation is still active, police say this case is challenging because of how young the alleged victims are.
“It has been a long process. And there are a lot of factors going into the investigation obviously,” says Captain Kenny Brode with the Harrington Police Department.
Officials say several parents report that their children were sexually abused by Ford, a gym teacher at W.T. Chipman Middle School.
“The Harrington Police Department was contacted by a concerned parent on some allegations that occurred at the W.T. Chipman Middle School,” says Capt. Brode.
Right now, police aren’t releasing many details about the exact allegations against the 63-year-old.
“The only thing we can report is that there was some inappropriate touching,” says Capt. Brode.
But officials say that first alleged victim has grown to three and that might just be the tip of the iceberg.
“At this point, we can confirm there are three victims but the investigation is continuing,” says Capt. Brode.
Captain Brode add that Ford is now facing five criminal charges, “One count of offensive touching, two counts of child abuse by person of authority and two counts of unlawful sexual contact where the victim is under 13.”
As this case moves forward, police tell 47 ABC they aren’t ruling anything out.
“As the investigation continues, some other things may come out or may not. But at this point it’s just in the fitness classes,” says Capt. Brode.
Lake Forest’s Superintendent tells 47 ABC that Ford was put on leave with pay in January and he will stay on leave until the case is fully investigated.
Meanwhile, officials are using this as a teaching moment for parents. “I think the biggest thing is educate their kids, talk to their children, be open with their children,” says Capt. Brode.
47 ABC also spoke with about a dozen locals in downtown Harrington, on Friday, about these allegations. While no one wanted to go on camera, they all said that if these claims are true they’re sad to hear this happened in Harrington of all places.
Ford was released on an unsecured bond on Friday and ordered not to have contact with the victims.
If you believe your child was a victim or you have any information that might help police you’re asked to call Harrington Police at 302-398-4493 ext. 46.