2010-01-29 / Front Page

Guilty Statutory Rape Plea For Music Teacher

Had Ongoing Affair With 15-Year-Old Student
Howard Schwach

Sentencing on a statutory rape plea for a Rockaway music teacher was held in abeyance on Monday by a Queens Supreme Court judge, pending his completion of a Florida program for sex offenders, a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown told The Wave.

 

Finnegan in a 2007 photo from the Breakfast with Santa event. Finnegan in a 2007 photo from the Breakfast with Santa event. The teacher, identified by court papers as Michael Finnegan, 40, formerly of 212 Beach 125 Street, was arraigned on March 16, 2009 on charges that he had an ongoing sexual affair with an unidentified 15-yearold who attended his musical program in the basement of the First Congregational Church on Beach 94 Street.

Court papers provided by Brown show that Finnegan, who owned and operated the Peninsula Performing Arts Conservatory (PPAC), a group that rented space from the church, first kissed the teen girl in July of 2008, after a session in the church basement.

The consensual affair progressed from a single kiss to sexual intercourse in a series of liaisons that lasted for at least four months, before the girl told her parents about the affair and they went to police.

Court papers say that Finnegan told his wife, Sheila, who co-operated the conservatory, that he wanted to leave her and their two children to live with the young girl.

Finnegan had previously been a music teacher at PS 43 in Edgemere and then the music director at a Brooklyn church.

He is well known in Rockaway, however, often involved with Catholic churches, the Rockaway Theatre Company and the PPAC.

Upon his arraignment, Finnegan was charged with rape in the third degree, two counts of a criminal sexual act in the third degree, endangering the welfare of a child and nine counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

One defender of the teacher, who asked not to be identified, said that the affair was consensual and that Finnegan made a poor error in judgment, but should not be punished for his transgression.

Legal sources, however, point out that a 15-year-old is not legally able to consent to sex with an adult.

Those sources say that what will happen upon Finnegan’s completion of the course will be up to the discretion of the judge and that he could be released or ordered to serve time in prison.

Finnegan reportedly remains in Florida, living with his parents while participating in the sex abuse program.

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