A teacher's aide was arrested Thursday afternoon for allegedly sexually abusing six female students at PS 52 in Jamaica.
Brett Picou, 30, of Beach 26th Street in Far Rockaway has been charged with seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, one count of second-degree course of sexual conduct against a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The alleged incidents took place between Nov. 1, 2011 and Feb 15 of this year. Picou as of Thursday afternoon was awaiting his arraignment.
"I am sad to report, once again, that a professional employed in our public schools has been accused of of inappropriately touching his students," Brown said in a statement issued by his office.
Picou allegedly hugged 9- and 10-year-old students and ran his hands down their backs to touch their buttocks on multiple occasions.
He also is accused of slapping one child on the buttocks and grabbing the buttocks of another as they walked up stairs at the school.
The allegations were brought to light when a teacher at the school allegedly overheard a conversation between two students discussing the alleged abuse.
Picou in the fifth teacher or aide in the last few weeks to be arrested on sex abuse charges involving students.
DOE officials said Picou has been suspended without pay since the alleged incidents came to light n Feb. 15. He started as a substitute paraprofessional at the school in 2008 and became full-time in January 2010.
"We take every allegation of physical or sexual abuse very seriously," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a statement issued by his office on Thursday. "We have already made significant changes to the way we flag and address employee misconduct to ensure the safety of our students, and we are fully cooperating with ongoing police investigations."
Picou is the DOE fifth employee in recent weeks to be arrested because of complaints of sexual abuse involving students.
The significant changes Walcott referred to were instituted last week following the arrest of 49-year-old Rego Park resident Wilbert Cortez, a computer teacher at PS 174 in Rego Park.
Cortez was the second school employee arrested in recent weeks who had a previously substantiated sexual abuse complaint against him in DOE records that were not made available to the principals hiring them. Cortez's first incident took place in March 2000 at a school in Brooklyn. He was transferred to PS 174 six months later.
Walcott said in a press conference at Cortez's school that all such complaints would be made available to principals in the future.
The statement issued by his office did not address whether or not Picou has any previous complaints in his file, a question included in an e-mail sent by the Chronicle.
City schools, including PS 52, were not in session on Thursday due to spring recess. Parents on the school's busy playground with their children said they had not heard of Picou's arrest, but were concerned.
Genara Serano said her 7-year-old daughter is a pupil in 2nd grade in that school.
"It was a shock to me."
She said there had never been any incidents of that character at the school before but she is getting increasingly aware of it.
"I ask my daughter every day if anybody touched her," she said.
"When parents deliver their kids into the custody of teaching professionals they have a right to assume that they will not be abused," Brown said. "The alleged actions of this defendant can never be tolerated."
The case is being investigated by Det. John Phelan of the NYPD's Queens Special Victims Squad.
Janne Louise Andersen contributed to this story.