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High School Principal's Arrest Stuns Upstate Town

WASHINGTONVILLE, N.Y. (CBS 2) -- A trusted high school principal has been arrested and accused of forcibly touching one of his students.

CBS 2's Lou Young reports the community of Windsor is stunned.

The school week was off to a chaotic start at Washingtonville High School following the arrest of long-time principal Michael Rossi for inappropriate contact with a student, police said. It's all the residents are talking about here.

"All the teachers just look ashamed. The kids are going crazy, too," junior Bob Mack said.

The case is built on text messages between Rossi and the unidentified 16-year-old boy. A friend of the alleged victim and recent graduate described some of the content.

"He was texting him, 'Oh I want to give you money to do push-ups in my office and I want to take you out' and it was just kinda, like strange," Jessica Purcell said.

Rossi, who is out on $2,500 bail, lives in New Windsor. He's married with two grown children.  Police said he met with the student at least once in his car where the alleged touching took place. Everyone who knows him is baffled by the news, even the police.

"It's shocking to us. This is a person in authority. He's the actual principal of the school. People look up to him for direction and guidance and something like this happens," New Windsor Police Deputy Chief Rick Hovey told CBS 2's Lou Young.

"I never … I'm … I'm … I don't know what to say. You don't understand. He's the sweetest man you'd ever want to meet," stunned neighbor Stacey Johnson said.

"He has a son that went to the school. He has a family. Why would he do that to his family?" Purcell said.

The school district, which has yet to say anything to students or parents about the incident, issued a one-line statement Tuesday afternoon saying Mr. Rossi is on administrative leave.

Police told Young there's no reason to believe the alleged incident is part of a pattern.

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