|ABCs of a sex scandal|
Sharp rise in teachers preying on city’s kids
Stripping down to a bra, miniskirt and crotchless panties, 30-year-old Bronx teacher Albania Abreu allegedly gave one of her GED students a lap dance – as a "Christmas present."
Angelique Jarnes, 33, shaped young minds at Long Island City High School in Queens until she was accused of having weekly sex with one of her students – while also allegedly sleeping with the boy’s older brother.
On a football field in Staten Island, Curtis High School music teacher Louis Mannarino, 42, allegedly took the virginity of a high school senior, then professed he was "falling in love" with her. The girl later wore a wire to catch him discussing his tangles with two other girls.
A Daily News examination of city documents found shocking details about scores of sexual encounters between teachers and students in city schools.
High-profile affairs by Mary Kay Letourneau in Washington State and blond beauty Debra Lafave in Florida captured national attention. But closer to home more teachers than parents realize are bedding students – or trying to.
Special schools investigator Richard Condon says his office busted 92 educators alone last year on sex charges – a 33% increase over 2004.
Most of the cases involved employees who leered at students, grabbed them inappropriately or propositioned them with questions like: "Would you date an older man?"
But The News’ analysis of investigations by Condon’s office found at least 19 cases in 2005 where educators – six of them women – allegedly had intercourse, oral sex or romantic relationships with students.
Another 18 cases involved educators who appeared to solicit sex from students, including a female teacher who pressed her body against a boy without realizing that a security camera was recording the action.
The total number of lurid student-teacher relationships last year was likely even higher. The News was barred access to dozens of reports that involved educators awaiting administrative hearings. And because many students refuse to cooperate with investigators, Condon said he’s often not able to prove what students and teachers really did behind closed doors.
"We can actually prove it if the girl or the boy says, ‘I was in his apartment or her apartment, there was a painting on the wall, we had sex three times …. That’s easy," Condon said. "But then you have others where you may not be able to prove the sexual relationship. But if you look and there’s 900 phone calls, you can show it’s inappropriate and that’s enough to get the person fired."
Condon said things like cell phones and e-mail have made it easier for educators to contact students. He credited that – as well as better reporting – with the spike in busts.
The numbers are not unique to New York. When researchers in 2000 and 2003 surveyed kids across the country in eighth through 11th grades, nearly 7% reported unwanted sexual contact with educators, said Charol Shakeshaft, an education professor at Hofstra University.
It’s a problem of "epidemic proportions," according to Terri Miller of Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation.
Miller said the teachers who have sex with students are usually charismatic and popular.
"They [students] adore them …but they are not willing participants," she said. "They have been seduced. They have been groomed. They have been coerced by the teacher."
Most of the educators whose cases were reviewed by The News were not charged with crimes. Some had sex with students who were at least 17, the age of consent. In other cases, students declined to press charges, authorities said.
Either way, the conduct is forbidden. Of the 19 educators caught having sex with students, those who didn’t resign were fired. But some were allowed to retire with full pensions.
"Sexual relations between students and staff members are completely inappropriate and will not be tolerated," said Education Department spokesman Keith Kalb.
Several of Condon’s investigations made headlines as soon as they were completed, like the case of Fernando Salvador, a 54-year-old Manhattan science teacher who was allegedly caught performing oral sex on a student in a dark computer lab.
Scandals at Manhattan’s High School for Health Professions and Human Services also shook the city. It was there that teacher Rhianna Ellis, 24, became pregnant with a student’s baby weeks before guidance counselor Samantha Solomon, 29, was seen kissing a student.
But several teachers, like Abreu, Jarnes and Mannarino, were dropped off the payroll without attention. All three declined to comment to reporters.
But Mannarino’s wife insisted her husband retired to open a Staten Island music school. "He just decided to switch careers after 20 very successful years teaching public school children," Toni Mannarino said.
The educators – who investigators say were caught last year with their pants down – include:
Fabian Baez, 32, a teacher at the Fordham Leadership Academy for Business and Technology in the Bronx, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sexual misconduct charges after having an affair with a girl who he claimed "had a crush on him."
Teswayne Harris, 27, a teacher at Sheepshead Bay High School who invited a former student to his apartment on Valentine’s Day, then allegedly forced himself on her.
Eve Silverstein, 33, a guidance counselor at PS 79, a Manhattan special education school, whom investigators say told a colleague she’d gone to the prom with a student she was dating.
It’s a problem that parents need to confront, said Walter Lynch, who heads the city’s high school parents council.
"It should be taboo no matter what," he said. "It should not be allowed."