Niagara Gazette

July 23, 2013

Statute of limitations limits police options in case of 79th Street School principal

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — An investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against a Falls elementary school principal will not end in criminal charges.

Falls police have confirmed that they have closed their case involving 79th Street School principal Patrick Kuciewski.

"Upon a thorough investigation, and in consultation with the Niagara County District Attorney's Office, at this time the current investigation (into the allegations against Kuciewski) is closed," Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said on Monday.

The police chief said the claims against Kuciewski were just "too old."

"The investigation was closed because the statute of limitations (for prosecuting the alleged crimes) has run out," DalPorto said. "It's unfortunate, because I think we had enough evidence to pursue a charge."

The allegations against Kuciewski first became public when the popular principal was pulled out of his school on June 10 and taken to Falls police headquarters for questioning. After the interview, Kuciewski was released without any criminal charges. 

Despite early reports, Kuciewski was not taken into custody at the school or transported that day in handcuffs.

At that time, DalPorto said detectives were “acting on a complaint.” Sources told the Gazette then that the allegations of sexual misconduct could date as far back as 15 years. 

The statute of limitations on crimes of that nature is five years.

In the aftermath of the police questioning of Kuciewski, investigators said two more women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the principal. Those claims were also outside the statute of limitations.

DalPorto said the closing of the current criminal investigation of Kuciewski does not mean that the case cannot be re-opened.

"Even though the investigation is closed, we are still willing to hear from other possible victims," he said. "Perhaps the statute of limitations will not have run out on them."

Kuciewski was placed on paid administrative leave by the Falls School District after police began their investigation. School district attorney Angelo Massaro said the matter was also under investigation by the district. 

The district has refused, however, to comment further on what it calls “a personnel issue.”

DalPorto said it would be up to the school district to decide whether to take administrative action against Kuciewski.