The city's Department of Education says it does everything in its power to root out possible sexual predators in the schools, but a NY1 investigation seems to show that in at least one case, the DOE did not live up to that promise. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
A mother in Far Rockaway is certain a teacher did something horrible to her 5-year-old son.
She said she knew right away something was wrong when she stopped by P.S. 42 to pick him up early on April 10. She found him distraught, sitting alone in the back of a dark auditorium, far apart from the rest of the kindergartners. She said a male teacher, whom she'd never seen before, approached them.
"I told him I was his mother, and he told me, 'He was really a mess,'" the mother said. "He's like, 'I took good care of him. I cleaned him up.' I told him, 'Thank you.' I didn't know what that meant, but I said thank you."
That night, she asked her son about the teacher.
"He said, 'He's not a teacher, mommy. That's a cop,'" the mother said. "I said, 'No, he's not a cop, he's a teacher.' He's like, 'No, he's an officer. Good officers take good care of you.'"
He told her that the teacher had taken him, alone, to a bathroom and shown him a yellow badge.
"Later, my son said to me, 'He told me not to tell you, but I'm telling you anyway, mommy,'" the mother said. "That night, my son laid in the bed with his back to me. He told me not to look at him. He told me I didn't love him. He He laid in the bed and cried while laying in my arm. I really didn't know what to do."
She said she called the precinct and was advised to report the incident to the school. On April 12, she called the school's parent coordinator.
"I let her know the full details of everything that I knew at the time," the mother said.
The school's only action was to help her officially withdraw her son. But as he showed more and more signs of trauma, the mother filed reports with the Special Schools Investigator's office and the NYPD, which assigned the case to the Queens Child Abuse Squad.
Yet the teacher continued to work in the school, which is especially disturbing in light of what the boy finally told his mother, three months later.
"The teacher had taken him and undressed him and laid him down and touched his private area," the mother said. "He let me know that the teacher also exposed himself to him. He told me that the teacher had made him suck his own thumb. He told me that in the auditorium, the teacher was sticking his hand in his pants, rubbing his buttocks."
She said it confirmed many of her worst fears but didn't surprise her. For months, she'd been trying to report that some sort of sexual abuse had occurred.
Part 2 of NY1's investigation will discuss what the DOE says it did about this case and what its own rules say should have been done.