NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There are more victims, allegedly.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown today accused Wilbert Cortez of sexually abusing three additional male students. The new charges relate to incidents between 2007 and 2011.
Cortez, 49, was charged in February with inappropriately touching two young boys in his computer class at P.S. 174 repeatedly over the course of the 2010-11 school year.
“These are serious accusations in which a school teacher – who should serve as a role model to students – is instead accused of using his position to gain access to children for his own gratification,” said Brown. “Schools should be safe havens where students are protected from harm.”
Cortez was arraigned on the new charges Wednesday night. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Cortez was freed after posting $50,000 bail in February. The children he was accused of abusing in those incidents are now ages 8 and 9.
In 2000, when Cortez was at P.S. 184 in Brooklyn, a letter went out to the Department of Education, saying Cortez allegedly “inappropriately touched two male students.” The letter adds that one of the accusers reported the alleged abuse to another teacher, but “on three separate occasions, he failed to report the information to the principal.”
A letter was placed in Cortez’s permanent file. Nonetheless, shortly after the letter, Cortez was transferred to P.S. 174, where he has taught for 11 years.
Because Cortez slipped through the cracks 12 years ago, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced changes to the review system, saying they’ll look at records going back to 2000. Anyone who was flagged from then to now will be fired.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently pushed for an initiative that would make it easier to fire teachers suspected of sex abuse.
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