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Spring Gardens aide groped students: DA

TimesLedger Newspapers

A Queens public school employee has been accused of sexually abusing his students just a week after it was learned that a teacher in the borough had asked her students to send Christmas cards to a prisoner in an upstate jail.

Brett Picou, a teacher’s aide at PS 52, at 178-37 146th Terrace in Springfield Gardens, was charged with inappropriately touching a number of female students over the course of several months, according to the Queens district attorney.

District Attorney Richard Brown said the criminal charges against Picou allege the 30-year-old paraprofessional hugged and touched a number of 9- and 10-year-old on multiple occasions between Nov. 1 and Feb. 15 at the school on 146th Terrace, where he started working as a substitute in 2008 and was hired full-time in January 2010.The complaint also alleges Picou slapped the buttocks of one child and held the buttocks of other girls as they walked up the stairs.

Brown said school personnel overheard the students talking about the alleged touching and then notified the police.

“I am sad to report, once again, that a professional employed in our public schools has been accused of inappropriately touching his students,” said Brown. “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 has been suspended without pay since the allegations were made Feb. 15, according to a DOE spokeswoman.

The announcement came a week after it was revealed that a Corona teacher had her students send Christmas cards with their personal information to an upstate prison inmate. The DOE’s special commissioner of investigation recommended the teacher be fired and barred from working again for the city Department of Education.

Over the past several weeks, a number of public school employees have made headlines for their inappropriate behavior toward students.

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Oakland Gardens) said he was shocked over the most recent allegations.

“I believe in innocent until proven guilty, but if this man is guilty of this crime, it is one of the most heinous atrocities that has ever occurred in a school in my district,” he said in a written statement. “We seem to be living in some kind of sick Dark Age when predators are on the loose, preying on the most vulnerable segment of society: children. School should be the single safest place a child can be outside of their home. I urge a full and thorough investigation into this situation, and that any wrongdoing be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Brown said Picou was awaiting arraignment last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court on six separate criminal complaints charging him with seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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