Another Queens educator was arrested last week for allegedly sexually abusing students. He was the fifth of six Department of Education (DOE) employee arrested on sexual charges in February.
Students at P.S. 52 in Jamaica complained that Brett Picou, a 30-year-old teacher’s aide, slapped and held the buttocks of six female students between November and February.
Picou lives in Far Rockaway but turned himself in to officers at the 112 Precinct in Forest Park Thursday, Feb. 23. It wasn’t immediately clear why he chose to do so, and his attorney did not respond to a phone call.
On Tuesday, police arrested the sixth DOE employee on sexual charges. Darryl Lynch, a 55-year-old ROTC teacher, was arrested for allegedly groping a 14-year-old female student at the High School of Graphic Communication Arts in Manhattan.
According to the criminal complaint against Picou, six girls between 9 and 10 years old told the Queens Special Victim Squad that he inappropriately touched them.
Two of the girls said that Picou grabbed their buttocks as they walked up the stairs despite their protest. One said she couldn’t drive Picou off even after saying, “Stop, I’m a little girl.”
Other girls said that Picou would repeatedly hug them and slide has hands down their backs to touch their buttocks.
One student told a detective that on Dec. 12, Picou “lifted up her skirt and rubbed his fingers on her thigh.”
According to the D.A.’s office, police started an investigation into Picou when faculty at P.S. 52 overheard students talking about the touching.
Picou faces seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree sexual conduct against a child 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,” the 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’s arrest came exactly one week after Wilbert Cortez, 49, a computer teacher at P.S. 174, was arrested for allegedly abusing kids in his classroom.
Dogged with allegations lately, the DOE did not immediately respond with details of their response to accusations against Picou other than to say they are cooperating with the investigation.
“We take every allegation of physical or sexual abuse very seriously. We have already made significant changes to the way we flag and address employee misconduct to ensure the safety our students, and we are fully cooperating with ongoing police investigations,” School Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a prepared statement.
By Jeremiah Dobruck