A Queens computer teacher has been arrested for sexually abusing two elementary
school students, authorities said. Wilbert Cortez, 49, allegedly touched
the genitals and the buttocks of an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old over their
clothes in his classroom at Public School 174 in Rego Park on at least
two occasions during the 2010-11 school year. He is the third public school
teacher accused of sexually abuse in a one week period and has been accused
of inappropriately touching students in the past.
Prior to this year’s allegation, Cortez was accused of sexual misconduct
for touching two other students at a different school. In 2000, Mr. Cortez
was found to have touched the buttocks of two male students by the school
system’s special commissioner of investigation. A letter recommending
disciplinary action was filed but Cortez never faced any criminal charges
for his actions.
This time Mr. Cortez was charged with two counts of engaging in repeated
sexual conduct with a child and two counts of endangering a child’s
welfare, the police said. The Schools Chancellor was appalled by the allegations
and made the following statement reported by the New York Times: “I
will do everything in my power,” he continued, “to ensure
that individuals like Mr. Cortez can be swiftly removed from our classrooms
as soon as allegations surface — and be barred from teaching in
our schools if those charges are substantiated.”. Mr. Cortez has
been a teacher in the city schools since 1990 and has taught at P.S. 174
since 2000 but in light of the charges against him has been removed from
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