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Newton teacher advertised with babysitting website

Posted by Leslie Anderson  January 24, 2012 04:37 PM

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David Ettlinger, the Newton teacher charged last week with possession of child pornography and sexually assaulting a minor and filming it, advertised his babysitting services with a national website.

Ettlinger had an account with Sittercity.com, a spokeswoman with the company confirmed Tuesday.

"Sittercity was deeply saddened to learn of this situation," Mary Schwartz, the company's director of public relations, said in an e-mail. "As soon as it was brought to our attention, we terminated Mr. Ettlinger's account and notified anyone who may have had contact with him about the termination."

Ettlinger was arrested as part of a federal investigation into Dreamboard, a Website where subscribers posted and distributed child pornography.

Last week, Ettlinger pleaded not guilty in West Roxbury District Court to charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and posing a child in a state of nudity. He also pleaded not guilty in Brighton District Court to related charges of possession of child pornography.

Ettlinger was a teacher at Underwood Elementary School and had been employed by the Newton public schools for 12 years. Newton parents have been stunned by his arrest and the allegations that the popular teacher participated in the child pornography ring.

School officials said they were moving to fire Ettlinger, who has been put on administrative leave.

Tonight, Newton school officials held a community meeting at Newton North High School to discuss the situation with parents and local residents. About 150 people attended.

"I thought I knew him,'' said Yee Kwan, whose son was in Ettlinger's classroom at Peirce Elementary School, where he taught previously.

Kwan said she volunteered often in the classroom, and never noticed anything amiss. "I thought I judged character really well."

Several parents at the meeting questioned the city's policies and procedures for training teachers and reporting problems with educators. Although Ettlinger was CORI checked, parents wondered if the district should investigate teachers' backgrounds further.

School superintendent David Fleishman said there is an internal working group looking at the district's procedures.

Isabel Stover of Newton said she found Ettlinger through Sittercity and he babysat for her two children once in October after she checked his references and discovered nothing wrong.

She said she feels "incredibly relieved'' that nothing bad happened. She was notified of the situation by Sittercity last Wednesday, she said.

Schwartz directed further inquiries about Ettlinger's involvement with Sittercity to the Suffolk district attorney's office, which would not comment on the investigation.

Caregivers who register on Sittercity are screened to verify their identity and checked against state sex-offender registries, Schwartz said.

Both parents and childcare providers can also initiate background checks through the site that searches local, state and federal criminal records, she said.

"Sittercity takes safety very seriously,'' Schwartz said.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com


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