LOWVILLE — The case against a South Lewis Central School District teacher facing charges that he forcibly touched two males has been adjourned until Nov. 13 as police and the Lewis County district attorney try to unravel a tangled web of relationships among men who have known each other for years.
The teacher, Arthur J. McCall, 45, of 5326 Dayan St., who has taught music in the district for 22 years, was suspended with pay upon his arrest Sept. 6 by village police. He and his attorney, Michael F. Young, have declined comment since the charges were filed.
The alleged victims, Jarrod A. Hurley, 26, and Douglas M. Tuttle, 17, have told police that Mr. McCall also solicited them for sex and harassed and stalked them.
The case is complicated because of the longtime familiarity between the accusers and the McCall family. Since mid-October, Mr. McCall’s 19-year old son, Kenny, has been staying at Mr. Hurley’s Easton Street apartment, less than one block from his father’s residence.
Also in the past month, Mr. McCall’s estranged wife filed charges against Mr. Tuttle, alleging that he had an improper relationship with a relative of the McCalls in February.
The district attorney’s office has not yet interviewed Mr. Hurley and Mr. Tuttle. The police, meanwhile, have indicated that more charges are possible.
The accusers have their own troubled backgrounds. Both are high school dropouts, though Mr. Hurley has earned his general education diploma. Mr. Hurley has been convicted of misdemeanor assault for biting his brother. Mr. Tuttle, a former student of Mr. McCall’s, has been charged as a juvenile with misdemeanor drug violations. Their character and ethics are commented on by anonymous posters on the online forum topix.com, where terms such as “drug use,” “theft,” “suicidal behavior” and “extortion” are used frequently.
Adding to the entanglement is another young man, Nathan D. Hotchkiss, 24, who has gone to the village police also to accuse Mr. McCall of solicitation, stalking and harassment. He said he will be available to serve as a prosecution witness if the cases ever come to trial.
“I had thought of (going to police) for quite a while, but I’m not the kind of person that’s going to go and destroy somebody’s life,” Mr. Hotchkiss said. “It was just affecting me, so why did it really matter? But when it came out with Doug, Doug’s an innocent 17-year-old kid. It happened to me, but I was an adult, not a kid.”
The men all recently gave an account of their alleged relationships with Mr. McCall to Johnson Newspapers.
Jarrod A. Hurley, 26
Mr. Hurley is a Lowville resident who knew Mr. McCall “because it’s a small town. Everyone knows everyone.”
While he said he has been friends with Mr. McCall’s son, he said he had little interaction with Mr. McCall until August, when he was hired to paint Mr. McCall’s house. It was then, according to Mr. Hurley’s statement to village police, that “Arthur started to make sexual talk with me and moved towards sexual gestures like winking at me and grabbing his groin and talking about gay sexual encounters he had had in the past. He also offered sexual favors to me for money.”
The report said that Mr. McCall offered to give Mr. Hurley $15 to masturbate in front of him. When Mr. Hurley commented on a piece of artwork in Mr. McCall’s home, Mr. McCall allegedly offered the artwork to him if he would engage in anal sex with him.
Mr. Hurley told police that he made it clear to Mr. McCall that he would not have sex with him and walked away. He alleges that Mr. McCall followed him and continued making inappropriate comments. According to Mr. Hurley’s report, “I turned around and yelled back at him asking him what was wrong with him and he grabbed me by the testicles and said, ‘Dude, calm down.’”
Mr. Hurley said he then left Mr. McCall’s property, but returned the next day with Mr. Tuttle.
“I took Douglas Tuttle with me because I didn’t want to encounter his potential sexual advances by myself and thought if I took someone with me he wouldn’t make the sexual talk and advances that he did when I was there with him alone,” Mr. Hurley said. “I would have never expected (Mr. McCall) to act so inappropriate in front of a child considering his occupation. I never would have dreamed to this degree, to a kid.”
Mr. Hurley said he knew the teen could use some money and this arrangement would thus benefit them both.
Mr. Hurley said he now struggles with the fact that he brought Mr. Tuttle to paint with him and has apologized to him for placing him in that position.
Since the alleged August event, Mr. Hurley told Johnson Newspapers that he has twice been “in distress” and sought treatment at a hospital emergency room. On the second occasion, Mr. Hurley was taken to Samaritan Medical Center for treatment.
Douglas M. Tuttle, 17
Mr. Tuttle, who lives outside the village of Lowville, is a former music student of Mr. McCall’s. He was also friends with Mr. McCall’s son and previously had dated his daughter.
“I had a weird feeling around him,” Mr. Tuttle said, recalling his seventh- and eighth-grade years at South Lewis. “I didn’t really know what to think of him. He just had that smile and he’s got that whole posture thing when he walks through the halls.”
In his statement to police, Mr. Tuttle said, “Shortly after we got to the residence Arthur said something like, ‘What’s the deal with you?’ I wasn’t certain what he meant by that but he continued to ask me weird questions like ‘how big is your’ penis ... until he eventually came out and asked if I was gay.”
Mr. Tuttle said Mr. McCall later offered four or five different amounts of money if he would expose himself. He said Mr. McCall offered to let the teen shower at his house and expressed his interest in watching him.
According to Mr. Tuttle, Mr. McCall said, “I can just peek through the door while you’re taking a shower.”
Mr. Tuttle attempted to divert the sexual conversation to “a civil conversation without the sexual parts,” according to his statement to police. Mr. Hurley has corroborated these alleged events.
When Mr. Tuttle was painting on a ladder in the rear of the house, he said, “Arthur McCall asked me how much I would charge to paint without any clothes on. I told him to leave me alone because I wasn’t gay. He also asked me how much pot it would take for me to let him suck my (penis).”
Mr. Tuttle was later in the front of the house on a ladder, he said, “when Arthur came up from behind me and grabbed my buttocks and said, ‘That’s pretty firm.’”
Mr. Tuttle said he then left the ladder and walked to an area by the garage where the paint cans were. On the way to the garage, Mr. McCall allegedly continued asking Mr. Tuttle questions about his sex life, his penis size, what girls at South Lewis school he had had sex with and whether he had ever had sex with a relative of Mr. McCall.
Eventually, Mr. Tuttle said, “I told him my mother was in the hospital and that I had to go. I told him my mother was in the hospital because I needed to think of an excuse to get away from him.”
When he left, Mr. Tuttle said, “I ran down the road. I just didn’t want anything to do with it. I despise even looking at the house now.”
Mr. Tuttle said he went to nearby Veterans Memorial Park, where he waited for his mother to pick him up. About an hour later, he said, the stalking started.
Mr. McCall “circled Memorial about probably 10 times in five minutes,” Mr. Tuttle said. “He saw me. He’d stare at me. The whole time he’d put a smile on. He’d wave.”
Mr. Tuttle said he left the park and went to another location to have his mother pick him up. He said that he did not see Mr. McCall again that night, but that the stalking continued the next day.
“It didn’t matter where I was in Lowville, he’d find me. He’d circle and circle and that’s it. He wouldn’t stop. He’d stop at a stoplight, obviously, but then he’d just stare over here. A red light would turn green and he’d be there for another five or 10 seconds.”
Mr. Tuttle said the behavior continued for about a week, until he stopped hanging out with friends in Lowville and just stayed home.
He did have a recent encounter when Mr. McCall appeared in Lowville Village Court on the forcible touching charges. Mr. Tuttle was answering a charge of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Mr. McCall “sat two seats away from me,” he said, adding that he felt it was to intimidate him.
Mr. McCall’s case was adjourned, and though he was free to leave, he returned to the same chair near Mr. Tuttle while other cases were heard.
“He left right after mine was done,” Mr. Tuttle said.
Since the alleged incidents in August, Mr. Tuttle has received treatment at the Behavioral Health and Wellness Center of Lewis County.
Nathan Hotchkiss, 24
At age 16, Mr. Hotchkiss was a high school dropout. He worked delivering newspapers and hadn’t yet answered the question about his own sexuality.
“I kind of avoided the topic, because I’d thought about it, but I’d never done anything,” he said.
It was at that stage in his life, he alleges, that he had his first encounter with Mr. McCall.
“I had just dropped out of Lowville school,” Mr. Hotchkiss said.
Though he was no longer a student, he attended an early morning lap swim that was open to the public.
“Every morning, before paper route, I would go to morning swim and go do some laps. Every time I’d get done, because I had to get done a little early to do newspapers, I’d get done to go take a shower and every single time I got in that shower, (Mr. McCall) would come in and he would stay in the shower for however long I was in there and keep peeking over. I caught him numerous times peeking over. I would just scoot out of there and get dressed and go home. It got to the point it was happening so much that I just quit going. It wasn’t worth it.”
During the time this went on, which Mr. Hotchkiss said lasted about one month, he never said anything to Mr. McCall.
“I just kept my distance,” he said.
Mr. Hotchkiss said it was “quite some time” before he saw Mr. McCall again.
“I started hanging out with his son,” he said. “That’s when he first started hearing about me again,” Mr. Hotchkiss said he believes.
At age 23, Mr. Hotchkiss said, he was openly known to his friends as being bisexual, and he was working at his job at a Lowville business as a cashier. One evening while at work, he said, he had another run-in with Mr. McCall.
“I was working on a cash register for closing shift,” Mr. Hotchkiss said. “It was probably about 9:30 or 10 o’clock. The store was pretty empty. He comes up and he asked me how much I charged. I said, ‘What do you mean how much I charge?’”
He said Mr. McCall answered, “‘I hear that you’re bi-(sexual) and I was wondering how much you would charge me.’ Then, he put on a piece of paper his phone number and passed it over to me at the cash register.”
Mr. Hotchkiss said the two crossed paths again when Mr. McCall offered to repair a musical instrument.
“My trombone was broken and he said he could help me out with it,” Mr. Hotchkiss said. “I brought it up to him for him to look at it to his house. He told me how much he would charge for it and then he just started asking me a bunch of questions about my sex life, about his son’s sex life, which I knew about since I hung out with him all the time.”
The questions about his son, Mr. Hotchkiss alleged, were not general.
“He was asking details. He said something like, he knows that (his son) was sneaking girls up into the loft above the garage. He wanted to know what girls they were and how many he was doing at a time and what positions they were doing,” Mr. Hotchkiss said.
A short time later when Mr. Hotchkiss thought he was going to have to move out of his parents’ house, he said, Mr. McCall offered to let him move in with him. Though he declined the offer, Mr. Hotchkiss said he later accepted money from Mr. McCall, which he said led to three months of stalking and harassment.
“I was all out of money and he said that he would help me out with $40,” Mr. Hotchkiss said. “I needed gas money for a job interview out in Watertown so he gave me the money. The following day, after I got back from the interview, he wanted me to come over and hang out and talk music because I’m a music kind of guy, and he did just give me money so I could get the job.”
Once at Mr. McCall’s home, Mr. Hotchkiss alleged, “He kept insinuating that he wanted to do stuff and that I wanted to do stuff. He put on a porno (movie) and tried working that way.”
He claimed the suggestions continued: “He was saying that he hasn’t been with a guy in a while and he likes to do it once in a while. He tried to play off that he was straight, but just wanted to experiment a little.”
“I ended up leaving and told him I wasn’t into it at all and from that point on the harassment began,” he alleged. “He was texting my phone all day long telling me I need to pay him back the $40 that he gave me.”
Mr. Hotchkiss said the harassment escalated to the point Mr. McCall showed up at his place of employment, asking other employees where he could find Mr. Hotchkiss, telling them he owed him money.
Mr. McCall wrote a letter to Mr. Hotchkiss’s employer, saying Mr. Hotchkiss had borrowed $40 from him and was not paying it back, according to a store manager who asked not to be quoted. According to Mr. Hotchkiss’s parents, Carol E. and David L. Hotchkiss, Mr. McCall wrote a similar letter to them in a Christmas card, asking for their help in retrieving the money.
Mr. McCall also stopped at their home and called them several times, they said. After speaking with him twice and telling Mr. McCall they would not get involved in their son’s debts, the couple said they refused to take any more of Mr. McCall’s phone calls.
Mr. Hotchkiss said that he did not repay the $40 because he didn’t have the money, and that he wasn’t going to perform sexual favors in exchange for it. After he had endured the stalking and harassment, he said “I wasn’t going to pay him at that point, not after all that.”
Mr. Hotchkiss eventually changed his phone number, though Mr. McCall discovered the new number, he said, and harassing phone calls continued until he changed it again.
Mr. Hotchkiss recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge. In 2010 he was found guilty of criminal possession of a stolen debit card and of unlawfully dealing with a child for giving beer to a 15-year-old. In June his dog, Philimon, a black shepherd mix, was ordered destroyed by Village Justice Patricia H. Yarina after the dog twice got loose and bit several people.