A former private school instructor at Riverdale Country School has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. Richard Hovan, 30, who graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his undergraduate degree and from Columbia University for his master's, pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child. However, prosecutors say Hovan's relationship with the student began when she was just 15.
The Post reports, "Hovan started an 'improper' e-mail correspondence with the girl when she was 15, and began their illicit romps after she turned 16, the prosecutor said. A source in the Chelsea building said Hovan brought a 'very young-looking' girl home several times when his then-fiancée, 26-year-old Harvard University graduate Marina Bontkowski, was away." (The pair bought the apartment in 2010.) Prosecutors say he had oral sex with the girl once in April 2011 and again in May 2011.
The Post's source claims that Bontkowski almost caught Hovan with the teen, “I saw the girl climb out of the fire escape from his apartment and hide there. She waited until [the fiancée] was gone and then she came back in. The source said that when Bontkowski found out about Hovan’s alleged dalliance she hit the roof and called the cops on him, a law-enforcement source said."
Apparently at a previous Pennsylvania private school, Hovan was involved with a student under 17, but no charges were filed. Riverdale Country contacted parents yesterday about the arrest, noting that the school was aware of the allegations last May, contacted the authorities, and fired him in June, "Our review has found that prior to hiring this teacher, we received a clean background check on him and that senior Riverdale administrators made at least five reference checks to administrators at the teacher’s prior schools where we were told that he worked in good standing for several years."
Hovan was released on $25,000 bond. The NY Times reports, "Vinoo Varghese, Mr. Hovan’s lawyer, said his client, who now lives in Brooklyn and works as a private tutor, had no prior arrest record, was innocent and looked forward to clearing his name." A 2003 MIT publication shows that Hovan appeared on the Price is Right in 2003 and won $10,000: "Hovan and company rigorously studied prices of the products that are typically featured on the show. The students noticed that the show often reuses the same items, and tried to remember the prices of the most common items. Hovan and his friends made flashcards of the items and got to work."