Bronx Teaching Assistant Accused of Sexually Assaulting Mentally Ill Student
A substitute teaching assistant at the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters was arraigned Sunday night on the charge of sexual assault of a mentally ill 14-year-old student at her apartment and at school, the New York Times reported.
Maria Contreras, 29, faces a total of 29 criminal counts, including six charges of second-degree rape and two counts of second-degree criminal sex acts, which are felonies for adults accused of sexually assaulting children younger than 15 who are incapable of consenting because they are mentally ill or incapacitated.
Amongst the charges include third-degree rape, sexual misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. Her bail is set at $25,000 and the judge also issued a protection order for Ms. Contreras to stay away from the boy.
In a criminal complaint, prosecutors said the relationship started in November when Ms. Contreras had sexual intercourse with the boy six times at her apartment over the course of about two weeks.
In January, Ms. Contreras assaulted the boy twice at school by rubbing his genitals through his clothing, the complaint stated.
The courtroom in the Bronx was packed with friends and family of Contreras Sunday night.
Her lawyer maintains her client is innocent and there is no evidence of the crimes or of any communication between her client and the victim.
In a statement on Saturday night, the Department of Education called the charges “incredibly disturbing” and said officials were cooperating with the police investigation.
Although prevention of abuse is not absolute, when a child breaks their silence and we confront the issue by getting the child the help they need as soon as possible, we can save them a lifetime of suffering.