Updated 02/23/2012 11:51 PM
Queens Teaching Aide Charged With Sexual Abuse Of Six Female Students
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A full-time paraprofessional working in an art class at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens, Queens has been arrested and charged with sexual conduct with six female students.
Brett Picou, 30, who worked as a teacher's aide and a substitute at P.S. 52 since 2008, was awaiting arraignment Thursday on seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
According to the criminal charges, between November and last Wednesday, Picou hugged six girls between the ages of nine and 10 years old and then touched their buttocks.
Picou is also accused of spanking one of the girls and fondling other children as they walked up stairs.
School employees overheard the children discuss the alleged abuse on February 15. Charges were filed and Picou was suspended that day without pay, according to the Department of Education.
This month alone, four DOE employees were previously charged with alleged inappropriate contact with students.
Taleek Brooks, an aide at P.S. 243 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was charged with creating child pornography in a classroom and possessing other child porn.
Gregory Atkins, an aide at P.S. 87 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was charged with molesting a young male student.
Wilbert Cortez, a teacher at P.S. 174 in Rego Park, Queens, was charged with fondling two boys in his school.
Then, a substitute teacher, Chukwuma Duru, was accused of forcibly touching a child in P.S. 479 in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.
In response, the DOE is currently reviewing all substantiated charges filed against department employees dating back to 2000, and DOE officials will review the cases of anyone who had inappropriate conduct with children.
"As a result of that investigation, an arrest has been made, and I'll be announcing rather soon as far as our thorough review, looking back and moving forward around the new policies, to, again, make sure that anyone who is substantiated to be involved with inappropriate touching or sexual contact with our students is not in the system at all, and moving for their dismissal," said City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.
Several other DOE employees have also been accused this month of misconduct with children.
Melissa Dean, a teacher at P.S. 143 in Corona, Queens, admitted to having her students make Christmas cards that she then sent to an inmate with whom she had a relationship. The prisoner turned out to have been accused of possessing child pornography.
Charter school teacher, Evelyn Tirado, who works in the same educational complex in Morrisania as Duru, was accused of harming a student.
Finally, NY1 reported in an exclusive report that a student with autism at P.S. 94 in the East Village was allegedly abused by Elidia Jordan, a teaching aide, and harmed in a previous incident that was never investigated.