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Former Damien Memorial band director shocked by sexual assault charges

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    Peter John Rucci

The Damien Memorial School band director who lost his job after his arrest last week for investigation of sexually assaulting a girl says he is stunned by the charges.

Peter John Rucci, 61, who was charged Saturday with seven counts of sexual assault, said by phone today that his arrest “was a complete surprise.”

He said he knows the alleged victim, but referred further comments to his attorney, who did not immediately return a message for a comment.

Rucci was charged Saturday with three counts of first-degree sexual assault and four counts of third-degree sexual assault involving a teenage girl in Kailua, police said. He was released after posting $150,000 bail. Police said the alleged sexual assaults occurred in June. Police did not release the teen’s exact age, citing her juvenile status.

Rucci became Damien’s band director in August, but was fired last week after his arrest.

“Upon hearing the news, Damien has terminated Peter Rucci, effective immediately,” Damien President and CEO Wes Reber Porter said in a statement. “Based upon the dates of the allegations, the conduct occurred before his few months of employment with the school.”

A Damien spokesman said the alleged assaults did not involve any Damien students.

Rucci was arrested at 9:20 p.m. Thursday on Halekoa Drive in the Waialae-Kahala area.

Rucci said he began teaching at Honolulu Waldorf School in 2000 and was the school’s orchestra director until earlier this year when he left on good terms to be band director at Damien. He said he transferred to Damien because the school offered him better employment opportunities and more hours. Rucci said he was also a Navy retiree.

In addition, Rucci was also the band director at Le Jardin Academy in Kailua this year, working on the middle school and high school campuses, according to a school newsletter.

The administration for Honolulu Waldorf School and Le Jardin Academy could not immediately be reached for comment.

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