Tag Archives: Wilbert Cortez

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 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.”

 

A classroom is for learning


| editorial@queenscourier.com

What is the Department of Education (DOE) doing?

Administrators at the city’s public school system are seemingly asleep at the wheel, allowing teachers to run amok — WITH OUR CHILDREN.

In the past week alone, two teachers — who are supposed to be role models for our youth — were busted, one for inappropriately touching two boys, the other for a ruse that involved having her class send cards to a prison inmate.

What is going on? We are absolutely outraged at the lack of oversight by the DOE and United Federation of Teachers (UFT)!

In the first case, computer teacher Wilbert Cortez, 49, had already been accused and investigated for slapping students’ buttocks during the 1999-2000 school year. All he received at the time, however, was a disciplinary letter in his file.

Why was he not fired? Why was he allowed in a classroom again? Why did the DOE and UFT permit more incidents to occur, knowing that Cortez had already been accused?

Since the investigation into the second case, in which Cortez was accused of — and later arrested for — touching the genitals of two boys, more victims — at least seven — have come forward.

And what’s worse is that Cortez is not alone — he is reportedly the third city school employee this year to be arrested for the sexual abuse of students.

The classroom should be a place of studies and safety for students, NOT SEX!

And what about Corona teacher Melissa Dean, whose class wrote cards — to her jailed boyfriend, convicted of gun possession and whose laptop contained sexually explicit images of children?

Dean did not have permission from school administrators — or parents — for the project. Where was the oversight?

But instead of being fired straightaway, she was put on desk duty and allowed to keep her $75,000-a-year job, at least for the time being.

This is ridiculous! Nowhere else, in no other field or place of business, is such conduct tolerated!

Teachers are the key to our children’s present and future, and should be respected as such. We know there are very good, committed, caring teachers out there, and it is truly a shame that these “bad apples” can cast a pall on the rest of the bunch.

So wake up DOE and UFT — get rid of the bad apples, for the sake of the children.