Adviser jailed for harassing student

Daniel J. Davis works with members of Potsdam Central’s senior class in a team-building exercise Sept. 3 during activities on the first day school. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — A teaching assistant and faculty adviser for Potsdam High School’s Positivity Club will serve nearly six months in county jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child younger than 17, according to St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua.

Daniel J. Davis, 70, of Hannawa Falls, also admitted to a violation of probation stemming from an unrelated incident, Mr. Pasqua said, and will serve 60 days in jail for that concurrent to his other jail time.

He said Mr. Davis will start his sentence on Friday.

Mr. Pasqua said the official sentencing hearing will take place at least a month from now.

He said the plea deal satisfied all other charges against Mr. Davis — second-degree harassment with physical contact, as well as two counts of second-degree harassment with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, both of which are violations.

An order of protection has been issued for the victim.

According to filings in Potsdam Town Court, Mr. Davis repeatedly made “unwelcome comments of a sexual nature to, and initiated unwanted physical contact with, a student less than 17 years of age.”

The court documents say that over the course of the 2021 school year, Mr. Davis insisted on frequently hugging the student and rubbing her back and shoulders on multiple occasions without her consent.

Mr. Davis also made numerous remarks about the student’s physical appearance, including calling her “hot” and “beautiful” and “mature” on repeated occasions.

In an interview with police, the student recalled how Mr. Davis would often inquire about the nature of her relationship with her boyfriend, and how Mr. Davis would seem “disappointed” that they were still together.

The student recalled a particular instance when Mr. Davis followed her into the library and asked her to fasten his watchband on his wrist, despite nothing obvious preventing him from doing it himself. As she did this, she said Mr. Davis asked her, “Does this make me your boyfriend now?”

On another occasion, when she wore a tight-fitting top, skirt and heels to school, the student said Mr. Davis told her she looked “hot” and that he likes when she dresses that way.

The student also said that when she inquired about becoming more involved in the P2 Food Market program, an initiative of the Positivity Club for which Mr. Davis was the faculty adviser, he responded that she had everything going for her: “the smarts, the body and the looks.”

The student said Mr. Davis would hug her often, but would only rub her back or shoulders when there weren’t any other students or staff around.

“It got to the point,” she said in the police interview, “where I stopped showing up to the meetings and participating in the events because I was so uncomfortable with his comments and physical contact.”

She said she confronted Mr. Davis about his behavior in January, and he said he was “sorry” and that he’s “old-fashioned.”

Potsdam Central School District did not return a request for comment by press time Friday.

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