Updated 01/18/2012 09:01 AM
Voorheesville teacher accused of biting student appears in court
A fifth grade teacher accused of biting one of his students answered a child endangerment charge in court. Our Innae Park has more.
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VOORHEESVILLE, N.Y. -- Eighteen years of teaching could come to an end for Voorheesville elementary school teacher Michael Guerette who plead not guilty to the charge of endangering the welfare of a child in his first court appearance Tuesday night.
"It would be a tragedy if he's not allowed to return to his job," said Knox of his client.
Guerette is accused of biting a female fifth grade student in the arm while arm wrestling another male student in a bet over no homework back in December.
"I haven't seen any photos of the bite mark yet, so I'm not prepared to comment until I see evidence of that bite," said Knox. "All I know is that he reported the incident out of a sense of extreme caution and he self-reported it because he wanted to be sure he did the absolutely right thing in this situation."
In an exclusive interview with YNN last week, Guerette said the girl's arm made contact with his mouth, but it was not deliberate on either side.
"I know I would not bite a child. It's just not who I am. I'm just very sad and dismayed," he said Friday.
However, after court, he refused to give comment, as well as assistant Albany County District Attorney Shannon Sarfoh. Sarfoh said she could not comment on an open case.
More than a dozen people also came to the court, but Judge Connolly refused to allow them to speak during the hearing, saying "This isn’t a reality show."
All the attendees declined to talk to reporters afterward, but even so, Knox says support for Guerette has been overwhelming, displaying an entire file full of letters expressing belief in the fifth grade teacher's side of the story.
"The support letters I've received show he has an exceptional way of reaching students," Knox said. "We've had former students write me, current students, parents, parents of former students and they've all universally recommending Mr. Guerette's teaching abilities."
Knox says he will be negotiating with the District Attorney and he's confident they'll come to a conclusion. Guerette's next court appearance is Feb. 6.