Tag Archives: P.S. 174

Queens teacher charged with molesting three additional students


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Three more accusations have been levied against a former Queens teacher accused of molesting two boys earlier this year.

Wilbert Cortez, 49, was charged in February with sexually abusing two young boys on multiple occasions at P.S. 174 in Rego Park. Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced yesterday that Cortez has been charged with molesting three other male students between 2007 and 2011.

“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,” Brown said. “Schools should be safe havens where students are protected from harm.”

Cortez was a computer teacher before being removed from the classroom.

A city investigation in 2000 found that Cortez had shown “a pattern of inappropriate conduct” at a school in Brooklyn. The report concluded that the teacher slapped two students on the buttocks on several occasion. A letter of discipline was placed in Cortez’s file — however, six months later he was transferred to P.S. 174.

Cortez was charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to the district attorney’s office. He is due in court on June 11.

—Additional reporting by Steve Mosco

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee: Arvind Mahankali of Queens finishes third for second straight year

New York’s reigning wordsmith again came achingly close to a title at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday, notching a third-place place finish for the second straight year. Arvind Mahankali of Bayside Hills, Queens, who was sponsored by the Daily News, sailed through his third national bee until well into Thursday night’s finals – aired live on ESPN – when pronouncer Jacques Bailly hit him with “schwannoma,” a tumor of the sheath of the peripharal nerve. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

P.S. 174 Teacher Now Accused Of Molesting Five Boys

A Queens elementary school teacher arrested in February is now accused of molesting a total of five boys. 49-year-old Wilbert Cortez was originally charged with fondling two young boys in his classroom earlier this year. Read more: [NY1]

 

Deli fury at city’s ‘grocer’ injustice

Big Apple deli owners yesterday cried foul over Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban them from selling sugary drinks that are more than 16 ounces — a rule that wouldn’t apply to “Big Gulp” king 7-Eleven and other grocery stores. Read more: [New York Post]

 

State Senator’s husband tells cops he was mugged at Aqueduct racino 

A casino may be the perfect place for bluffing, but not when guns and the law are involved. The husband of a Queens lawmaker claims that he was recently mugged at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Aqueduct racino. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Decorated Marine named valedictorian of York College in Jamaica 

A decorated former Marine corporal who served two tours of duty in Iraq has overcome yet another challenge: college, and with flying colors.Chemistry major Tony Wan, 25, of Fresh Meadows, was named valedictorian of his class at York College. Wan, the first college grad in his family, is to accept his diploma on Friday. Read more: [New York Daily News]

 

Man Who Hijacked Plane In 1968 To Be Re-Sentenced

A federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing Thursday for a man sent to prison 15 years ago for hijacking a plane from New York to Cuba in 1968. Authorities say 69-year-old Luis Armando Pena-Soltren hijacked the plane to Cuba after it took off from Kennedy Airport. Read more: [NY1]

Queens teacher had ‘pattern of inappropriate conduct’


| smosco@queenscourier.com

A teacher who had “shown a pattern of inappropriate conduct,” but was allowed to teach anyway, has been charged with sexually abusing two young boys on multiple occasions at P.S. 174 in Rego Park.

Wilbert Cortez, a 49-year-old computer teacher at William Sydney Mount School, was charged with two counts of second-degree sexual misconduct against a child and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

“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 District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Schools should be safe havens where students are protected from harm. These are disturbing allegations that, if true, require punishment.”

According to the criminal charges, between September 2010 and June 2011 Cortez allegedly rubbed the groin and buttocks over the pants of two young students. He pleaded not guilty to sexual abuse and endangering charges in Queens Criminal Court on February 16 and was released after posting a $50,000 bail bond.

Perhaps most disturbing is that a city investigation in 2000 found that Cortez had shown “a pattern of inappropriate conduct” at a school in Brooklyn. The report concluded that the teacher slapped two students on the buttocks on several occasion. A letter of discipline was placed in Cortez’s file – however, six months later he was transferred to P.S. 174.

In response to the incident, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the school on February 17 to meet with officials and assure parents that he plans to make it easier for principals to get disciplinary records of anyone vying for a position at city schools.

“I am appalled by the allegations against Wilbert Cortez,” said Walcott. “No adult who inappropriately touches a student, in or out of school, belongs anywhere near the children we are responsible for protecting. I will do everything in my power 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.”

A spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers said “we do not comment on current investigations.”