Two teachers charged in separate sex abuse cases

April 21, 2010 10:46:55 PM PDT
A 38-year-old Queens public school teacher has been charged with sexually abusing five of his female students. Simon Watts was employed as a fourth-grade teacher at PS 15 (The Jackie Robinson School). Prosecutors say the victims range in age from 8 to 10 and the incidents happened over the last three years. Watts is the second Queens teacher arrested in the last week.

"The charges in both cases are disturbing on so many levels," District Attorney Richard Brown said. "As teachers and adults, the defendants were in positions of power and had no business having any contact with minors outside of school work."

Watts was arraigned Wednesday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child, first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. Watts, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, was ordered held on $200,000 bail and to return to court on May 3, 2010.

Brown said that, according to the criminal charges, Watts sexually abused five of his female students - sometimes on multiple occasions - between September 1, 2007, and March 9, 2010, often by making them touch him in a sexual manner. On at least one occasion, he allegedly told a student, "Don't tell anybody."

"My thing is that I'm concerned. That's my thing," one parent said after a PTA meeting on Wednesday night.

He said he just had a long talk with his daughter. He wanted to know whether his daughter's former fourth grade teacher had done anything to make her feel uncomfortable.

"Not that she can recall. Not that she can recall," he said.

It is a difficult issue that dozens of P.S 15 parents are now confronting after the arrest of the 38-year old 4th grade teacher.

"I got a first grader and second grader. You need to tell me my children are safe," Dilys DaCosta said after the meeting.

Parents asked school administrators that question and others at the meeting. Cameras weren't allowed in, but parents say it was a heated exchange.

School officials became aware of the allegations against Watts about a week ago, but didn't inform parents until they sent out a letter on Wednesday.

"Three paragraphs. That's it. It's not enough for me," one parent said.

Parents feel betrayed by the school and the teacher who allegedly preyed on their children.

"We, as parents, worry about someone attacking out kids outside of school. Now we have to worry about inside too. That's not right. That's not right at all," Darlene Williams said.

In the second case, Brown says 41-year-old Christine Williams is charged with third-degree rape, third-degree criminal sexual act and endangering the welfare of a child. Williams, who is employed as a fifth grade special ed teacher at P.S. 80 (the Thurgood Marshall Magnet School), was released on her own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 10, 2010. If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison.

According to the criminal charges, Williams engaged in sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old male student at her residence on at least two separate nights between January 29, 2010, and February 5, 2010. The student was allegedly a friend of the family.