Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is demanding answers from the Department of Education after it was revealed that a teacher's aide accused of molesting a young boy was previously investigated for having an inappropriate relationship with another student.
Police say Gregory Atkins, 56, an aide at P.S. 87 on West 78th Street, repeatedly took an eight-year-old boy out of class, had him undress and touched him inappropriately. Atkins was arrested Friday and arraigned on Saturday.
This is the second time Atkins has faced allegations for his behavior at city schools. In 2006, he was investigated for allegedly having an “inappropriate” relationship with a student while he worked at P.S. 322 in Harlem, but it was not deemed sexual in nature, according to officials. No charges were filed against him.
Still, de Blasio said the DOE’s actions were not sufficient after the first complaint.
“I believe the Department of Education's foremost duty is the protection of children; allowing someone who pursued an inappropriate relationship with a child to remain in the classroom is a clear dereliction of that duty,” de Blasio said.
Atkins, who has worked with the DOE since 2001 and earned a salary of $33,088, has been suspended without pay. He faces a number of charges, including attempting a criminal sex act, sexual abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child.
City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott pledged to cooperate fully with the investigation. "We take this allegation very seriously," Walcott said.
His arrest comes less than a week after another teacher's aide, Taleek Brooks, was arrested for allegedly producing child pornography inside the classroom a Bed-Stuy school.
What allegedly happened at P.S. 87?
According to a criminal complaint, Atkins took the boy out of class and had him strip in a bathroom stall four times on Feb. 2. He claimed he was checking the child for bruises, according to the criminal complaint.
Later in the day, the complaint alleges, Atkins took the boy to the school auditorium, where he requested the boy “take it out,” referring to his genitals. Atkins then allegedly massaged the child’s body and said, “I want to lick it,” referring again to the same body part.
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