Police

Greenport man, a former Southold school employee, is charged with sex abuse

A Greenport man was arraigned Tuesday on a grand jury indictment alleging he sexually abused two young girls in separate incidents spanning more than five years.

At his arraignment Tuesday, prosecutors said Joseph Flythe, 41, sexually abused one of the victims beginning when she was 9 years old and continuing until she was 12. Prosecutors said the abuse, which included intercourse, began in the fall of 2015 and occurred more than 20 times. A second victim reported him for inappropriately touching her last April, when she was 5 years old, prosecutors said. In both instances, prosecutors said Mr. Flythe was known to the victims’ families, but The Suffolk Times has opted to not print those relationships in order to protect the identities of the young victims.

Mr. Flythe has been housed at the Suffolk County Jail since Jan. 3, when he was arrested on a warrant issued following the Dec. 16 indictment. He has pleaded not guilty to the five-count indictment, which includes a top charge of first-degree sexual conduct against a child, a class B felony carrying a maximum sentence of 5-20 years in prison with the possibility of additional time added for the other charges.

On Tuesday, his defense attorney asked that he be granted supervised release instead of the $250,000 cash bail prosecutors recommended.

“[The charges] are very severe and awful but at this point they are, in fact, allegations,” said attorney Scott Zerner of Manhattan.

But Judge Karen Wilutis called Mr. Flythe a “major flight risk,” due to the severity of the charges and the possibility that he could be facing significant jail time if convicted. She ordered bail be set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond. Judge Wilutis said Mr. Flythe has one previous conviction for driving while intoxicated and a youthful conviction on a weapons charge that is under seal but could be used in determining bail.

Mr. Zerner said outside of the courtroom that his client would not be able to post bail, but he maintains his innocence.

“He is denying the allegations,” Mr. Zerner said.

Since his arrest at least one other woman, now an adult, said publicly that Mr. Flythe abused her as a child, in allegations that date back more than 15 years. She said she reported the abuse in 2016 to Southold Town police, but charges were never filed. A police source familiar with the investigation corroborated the alleged victim’s story, saying investigators couldn’t prove a time frame, which made the case a difficult one to pursue. 

Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said he could not comment on the case since it is currently in the hands of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

In an interview, the alleged victim, who has raised her allegations publicly on social media but whose name The Suffolk Times is withholding since she is the alleged victim of a sex crime, said she also reported Mr. Flythe to an administrator in the Southold School District, where he had worked as a custodian and a bus driver.

Current Southold superintendent Anthony Mauro said in an email that he cannot speak to the allegations since he was not employed by the district when the alleged complaint occurred and Mr. Flythe has not been employed by the district “for some time.”

Mr. Zerner declined comment on the previous allegation since it was not reflected in the indictment.

Mr. Flythe is due back in court for a conference Feb. 4.

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