Teacher accused of raping disabled teen

July 8, 2008 2:34:33 PM PDT
A Dutchess County teacher has been charged with the statutory rape and sexual abuse of a mentally disabled student who attends the school for children with special needs in which she teaches.The abuse is alleged to have occurred in the student's home and in a parking lot, both located in Queens.

"The charges are very disturbing," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. "The victim is believed to have a 50 IQ, making him particularly vulnerable to a teacher who is supposed to have his best interest in mind."

Brown identified the teacher as 27-year-old Mandi Weeks, of Hannacroix, New York. She is charged with two counts of third-degree rape, three counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child, and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse.

She is reportedly employed by The Devereux Foundation and teaches at Devereux New York, 40 Devereux Way, Red Hook, New York.

She faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Brown said that, according to the charges, the defendant raped and sexually abused the 15-year-old boy on June 25, 2008, inside of his Queens home. She is also charged with sexually abusing him while sitting in a car in a Queens parking lot on July 6, 2008, then raping and sexually abusing him later that same day inside of his home.

The victim attends a year-round residential school for children with special needs. He was home on a break when the abuse is alleged to have happened.

According to Brown, the investigation began Monday, when the victim boarded a subway in an effort to find Weeks and got lost. His mother reported him missing and police, in going through his computer in search of leads, allegedly discovered inappropriate e-mails from the Weeks.

Devereux Foundation New York's Executive Director John O'Keefe issued the following statement:

"The Devereux staff is shocked and saddened by such a charge. The welfare of our students is our top priority. We will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials and we will review our internal policies and procedures in order to insure the safety and security of those we serve. We have reached out to the family of the student to express our concern and regret and to do what we can to help them address the issues that arise from such a matter. The accused has been a teacher at our Red Hook center since February 2007. Based upon information received from the police we have terminated the employee and she will not be permitted back on campus. As is the case with all of our staff, she was subjected to a rigorous screening process and criminal background check. There was nothing in either to cause concern."