Teacher's aide accused of sexually abusing girls

February 24, 2012 4:22:25 AM PST
A 30-year-old teacher's aide in Queens is charged with sexually abusing six female students.

The assaults allegedly occurred between November 2011 and February 2012 at P.S. 52 in Jamaica.

Thursday night in Midtown, School's Chancellor Dennis Walcott denied that the latest arrest is another damaging strike against the public school system.

"I don't think we're getting a black eye," Walcott said.

Brett Pichou, 30, is the latest school employee arrested, and he faces a slew of charges.

Authorities accuse him of seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

"I am sad to report, once again, that a professional employed in our public schools has been accused of inappropriately touching his students," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. "The charges in cases of this nature are disturbing on a number of different levels. When parents deliver their kids into the custody of teaching professionals they have a right to assume that they will not be abused. The alleged actions of this defendant can never be tolerated."

Picou is accused of sexually abusing six 9- and 10-year-old girls at the school.

He allegedly hugged the female students and moved his hands down their backs and then touched their buttocks on multiple occasions. In addition, it is alleged that Picou also slapped the buttocks of one child and held the buttocks of other female students as they walked up the stairs.

But he has his supporters, who have been blindsided by the allegations.

"He was mad cool," one former student said. "I don't think he would do that."

In the last several weeks, the Department of Education has had to answer serious questions about the school system and its policies protecting children.

There have been five arrests, with teachers and teacher's aides are accused of sexual crimes against children and students.

Facing growing concern among parents, the chancellor has initiated reforms, but he brushes off suggestions of new system-wide background checks..

Choosing instead to stay the course with policy changes that he believes will make a difference.

"Not just removing them from the classroom, but it's my goal to get them out of the system all together," Walcott said.

Brown said the case came to light when school personnel overheard the students talking about the touching and notified the New York City Police Department.

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