A 46-year-old Prince William County teacher was arrested last week for allegedly failing to report knowledge of the abuse of a child, authorities say.
Prince William County Police say that Esther Geovanni Castillo, a 2nd grade teacher at Marumsco Hills Elementary School in Woodbridge, has been charged with failure to report suspected abuse to authorities.
According to officials, two students approached Castillo on March 30 to make separate allegations of sexual abuse after a school program, called "Hugs and Kisses." However, police say the teacher did not report the alleged offenses to either Child Protective Services or school authorities until April 12.
By law, teachers must report any suspected abuse or neglect to authorities within 72 hours of being notified.
The "Hugs and Kisses" assembly, which is on the calendar on a few more Prince William County School calendars, is a play put on by Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. It aims to educate children on how to keep safe from, prevent and report child abuse.
A warrant for Castillo's arrest was issued, and she turned herself in shortly thereafter on April 20. Castillo, who has been released on a summons, will be back in court on May 31.
Residents who live near the school were appalled to hear the teacher waited so long.
"Once they report it they should deal with it immediately,” says Jeff Slowik. “Haste makes waste they should not sit on that."
No one answered the door at Castillo's apartment. She faces a civil, not a criminal, charge of failure to report suspected abuse to authorities.
Coincidentally, starting July 1, Virginia law will change. The reporting period for suspected child abuse or neglect will go from 72 hours down to 24 hours. And in some cases, not reporting such an allegation within a day could lead to criminal charges.
"I think immediately as soon as a teacher finds out they should report it," says Steven Batitto, a Woodbridge resident.