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Queens Teacher's Aide Arrested for Sexually Abusing Six Girls

By Leslie Albrecht | February 23, 2012 2:22pm | Updated on February 23, 2012 7:00pm
Brett Picou, a DOE employee, was charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse on Feb. 23, 2012.
Brett Picou, a DOE employee, was charged with misdemeanor sexual abuse on Feb. 23, 2012.
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QUEENS — A Queens teacher's aide was arraigned early Friday on charges that he sexually abused six girls at school — the fourth such incident in the city this month, police said.

Brett Picou, 30, who works at P.S. 52 in Springfield Gardens, was arrested Thursday and accused of hugging and groping 9- and 10-year-old girls on several occasions between October 2011 and February 2012.

Picou also allegedly slapped one girl's buttocks and held another girl's buttocks as she walked up stairs, authorities said.

"The charges in cases of this nature are disturbing on a number of different levels," said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown. "When parents deliver their kids into the custody of teaching professionals they have a right to assume that they will not be abused. The alleged actions of this defendant can never be tolerated.”

Picou, of Far Rockaway, was charged with seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Queens District Attorney.

Picou, who had his waistlength hair tied back in a pony tail, said nothing at his arraignment shortly after midnight Friday. Bail was set at $25,000 bond, or $12,500 cash.

Picou was suspended without pay Feb. 15, when the allegations against him were first made, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education said.

The case came to light when school personnel overheard the victims talking about the touching and alerted police.

Picou started working in city schools in April 2008 as a substitute paraprofessional at P.S. 52. In January 2010, he became a full-time paraprofessional at P.S. 52.

The arrest is part of troubling pattern in city schools, which have seen a spate of sexual abuse arrests among its employees in recent weeks.

On Feb. 6, Taleek Brooks, an aide at Brooklyn's P.S. 243, The Weeksville School on Dean Street and Troy Avenue, was charged by the FBI with producing kiddie porn.

On Feb. 10, Gregory Atkins, a 56-year-old paraprofessional at the Upper West Side's P.S. 87, was arrested and charged with abusing a young boy.

Then on Feb. 16, Wilbert Cortez, a 49-year-old computer teacher in Rego Park, was charged with abusing two boys.

Atkins and Cortez both had a documented history of inappropriate behavior toward children.

In response to the disturbing pattern, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott vowed to weed out and fire employees with a history of sexual misconduct in their records.

"We take every allegation of physical or sexual abuse very seriously," said Walcott in a statement released late Thursday. "We have already made significant changes to the way we flag and address employee misconduct to ensure the safety our students, and we are fully cooperating with ongoing police investigations."