RHINELANDER - A janitor working in a Rhinelander elementary school faces felony charges for sexually assaulting a young girl at school on Tuesday.
Story By Ben Meyer
Police say 65-year-old Stavros Iliopoulos took the girl into a dark closet and hugged, kissed, and touched her inappropriately at Northwoods Community Elementary School, a public charter school in Harshaw.
"This is a very serious situation that occurred in a school," said Oneida Co. Sheriff's Capt. Terri Hook on Wednesday. "A student had reported to a teacher that there had been some inappropriate contact between herself and, obviously, Mr. Iliopoulos."
Hook's detectives talked to the victim, who said Iliopoulos asked the girl for a hug in the hallway. After she turned him down twice, he took her into a closet, kissing her, touching her skin, and reaching under her clothes with the lights off. As the girl tried to reach for the door, Iliopoulos grabbed her arm, later letting her go and telling her to keep quiet.
Iliopoulos was arrested Tuesday.
At a brief initial appearance in Oneida Co. Court on Wednesday, Iliopoulos called the accusations "not true."
In a police interview, Iliopoulos said the girl came into the closet on her own, asking about what was inside. He said he told her to get out right away.
But video evidence helped police corroborate the girl's story.
"There [are] video cameras in the schools, and we utilized that," said Oneida Co. Sheriff's Capt. Tyler Young.
Security video reviewed by police shows Iliopoulos and the girl walking toward the closet, then reappearing about five minutes later.
Iliopoulos isn't employed by the school district. Instead, he worked for Victory Janitorial, which subcontracts with the district. Iliopoulos told Judge Michael Bloom he'd worked there for about three years.
A call to a manager at Victory Janitorial wasn't returned Wednesday, but prosecutor Mary Sowinski said Iliopoulos was no longer employed.
Early Wednesday morning, Northwoods Community Elementary School Principal Alex Bontz sent parents an email, saying he couldn't share many details, but the district was addressing the situation.
"[The student's] concerns were immediately shared with law enforcement and they began an investigation. The person being investigated is not a district employee but is contracted through a company. He will not be returning to work in the district in any of our buildings," Bontz wrote.
Bloom gave Iliopoulos a $50,000 cash bond on Wednesday. He'll return to court next Tuesday. In addition to a charge of first degree sexual assault of a child, he's charged with child enticement and false imprisonment. The maximum prison term is 91 years.
Hook said the Sheriff's Office will continue its investigation.
"At this point, we're only aware of one victim, so if anybody else has any other information that they want to share with us, they should contact us," she said.
Rhinelander Superintendent Kelli Jacobi chose not to comment Wednesday afternoon.