A third-grade teacher in Harlem was arraigned today on charges of sexually molesting his eight-year-old student several times inside their school. NY1's Polly Kreisman filed the following report.
At his arraignment Thursday night, 29-year-old Rafael Sosa was accused of sexually abusing an eight year old girl in his third grade classroom at PS 208 in Harlem.
The District Attorney said the third-grade teacher forcibly touched her genitals while kissing her multiple times a week between last December and last week.
Investigators said that Sosa instructed the child to send him emails that said "I love you. I miss you. My heart belongs to you." Police said they recovered the emails even though they were deleted.
Sosa's attorney argued at Sosa's arraignment that the teacher never could have been alone with a child in a classroom that long and that the teacher's own wife and child were good friends with the alleged victim and her family.
Parents at the school learned of Sosa's arrest Thursday.
"I feel nauseous," said one parent. "I'd like to know where he is 'cause I'd kick his what-I-can't-say on television."
"My daughter is in his class and she really respects her teacher. She talks about him all the time," said another parent. "This is very shocking because he seemed like a nice person."
Prosecutors said Sosa befriended the victim's family to get close to her, buying her siblings lunch, sneakers and an iPhone. They also said he bought the 8-year-old alleged victim a Nintendo and an iPad.
Bail was set at $225,000. Sosa is scheduled before a grand jury on June 19.
The latest arrest comes at a time when Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott is pushing legislation that would empower school officials throughout the state to fire teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct. At present, most of these cases are decided by arbitration.