In the 12 minute video above, Robert Cox addresses the New Rochelle Board of Education at their Meeting at Isaac E. Young Middle School on Nov. 29, 2011. Before Cox speaks, Board President Chrisanne Petrone reads into the record a letter to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DeFiore regarding the Jose Martinez child rape case. Martinez was arrested and later admitted to a course or oral and anal rape of a 14-year old boy in his office at Isaac E. Young Middle School. After Cox speaks Petrone makes additional remarks as do two speakers from the community, Karen Hessel and Peggy Godfrey.
There are numerous false and misleading statements by Mrs. Petrone. I will address a few of them in my remarks at the next board meeting on Tuesday, December 6th at City Hall.
Readers will note that Petrone makes repeated, vague denials of something never stated or alleged by anyone -- that she had information that Martinez was having sex with students and failed to act. As is clear from past articles and my remarks to the board last Tuesday, the issue is that there are reports that she and others received complaints about Martinez' conduct -- being alone with young boys, pulling down the shades, locking the door, giving boys gifts of cash, food and candy, etc. -- that should have triggered a report to Child Protective Services under the New York State Mandated Reporter Law and did not.
As I wrote last month:
…a mandated reporter must file a report or cause a report to be filed if they have "reasonable cause to suspect that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is an abused or maltreated child…When the standard of "reasonable cause to suspect" is met a mandated reporter must "make the report as required by this title and immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency, or his or her designated agent."
Those who did receive complaints about Martinez and failed to act can face extremely serious legal consequences:
When the person in charge, or their agent, is notified, they become responsible if they fail to act and allow the abuse or neglect to continue.
"Not only can a person be abusive to a child if they perpetrate any of these actions against a child in their care, they can be guilty of abusing a child if they allow someone else to do these things to that child."
In the Martinez case, that would mean that a person who failed to file a report (or cause one to be filed) could be charged with child sexual abuse if they received the information prior to the period of February 2010 to April 2010, the period when Martinez admitted to repeatedly raping the student.
My remarks to the New Rochelle Board of Education on Nov. 29, 2011:
In the immediate aftermath of the Martinez arrest there were promises made of an independent investigation of the entire matter. That never happened. As the months have gone by those promises have been forgotten. I am here to remind you.
One thing that has changed since Jose Martinez was sentenced in October. We now have the Penn State case.
We have all seen the many terrible mistakes that Penn State officials made -- many of whom are now paying the price or soon will -- and we have seen how they are trying to make things right.
We see no such effort here in New Rochelle.
Instead we see the same old attempt to sweep the entire matter under the rug and pretend it never happened.
"It" being that a child was repeatedly raped in this building.
If this board does anything other than vote to create an independent investigation into the entire matter along the lines of what has been done at Penn State then you are deliberately choosing to risk leaving in positions of authority over children people who refused to act to protect children, as the law requires, when faced with the choice of allowing possible sexual abuse of children to continue or making waves within the school district bureaucracy that might harm their career.
I have been raising this issue privately for a month in the hope that by now you would have acted without public prompting. Obviously that has not worked.
In the years prior to his arrest Jose Martinez was the basis for repeated complaints by school district employees. I am aware of six employees who made formal complaints to their superiors. I am aware of three administrators and one board member who received these complaints. Of these 10 individuals not a single one filed or cause to be filed a report to child protective services as required by law.
A security guard who was typically posted outside Martinez' office was so distressed about what she observed going on with Martinez that she set up a meeting with Mr. Bongo and Mr. Robinson to discuss her concerns.
A secretary at Jefferson says she was so concerned about Martinez that she wrote a letter to Organisciak.
A nurse at Isaac was concerned about Martinez and reported her concerns to Mr. Bongo.
Two Isaac employees went outside the building altogether after being rebuffed by Mr. Bongo.
On April 9th I received an email about this which read:
"BONGO and ROBINSON were both made aware that something was amiss with MARTINEZ because he was having closed door meetings with students before he was given the position at JE. I'll simply say two staffers went to a board member to express some concerns... that board member spoke to BONGO & ROBINSON...they in turn warned MARTINEZ.
In my response that same day I wrote:
"Will you please tell me the board member you reference?"
Shortly thereafter I got the following response:
"PETRONE...two staffers approached her. From what I understand - she wasn't sure what to do and felt it was something BONGO and ROBINSON should handle as stewards of the building...
Several weeks later I was on my way to cover a hearing for Martinez at the New Rochelle City Court when I was approached by Elena Dilion. She spoke with me for about an hour in the parking lot at City Hall. Our conservation was observed by then-Board President Sara Richmond.
I was already aware that Dilion had raised concerns to Organisciak about Martinez behavior with young boys.
Dilion spent most of that time with me attempting to justify why she would not go to authorities or make public that she had made repeated written complaints to Organisciak about Martinez.
She stated that she believed she could do more good by keeping quiet and keeping her job where she could help ELL students.
The nature of the complaints follow a pattern.
- closing and locking the office door
- pulling down the shades
- giving boys who got in trouble rewards -- pizza, money, gifts
- giving several "favorites" free run of his office to use his computer and otherwise hangout
Anyone with knowledge of how pedophiles operate would know that the complaints being made about Martinez represented classic grooming behavior of victims by a sexual predator.
If anyone ought to know about these signs it would be the very people who received these reports and yet no one every filed or caused to be a filed a report with Child Protective Services.
Any honest board member would acknowledge that employees in New Rochelle fear retaliation. They know that popping your head up to point out wrongdoing by other employees is only going to get them in trouble.
Given this, what does it say to you that at least six different people were concerned enough to write letters or emails or request meetings to discuss their concerns about Jose Martinez. Yet no reports were ever filed.
I count 6 people going to 4 other people for a total of 10 people who knew about these complaints. I am sure there are more.
Why were these people concerned about Martinez inviting young boys into his office alone?
These were your own employees reporting their reasonable suspicions that Martinez was sequestering himself with young boys for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact with them.
Oh, and by the way, every concern that these six people had turned out to be entirely justified -- Martinez was having sex in his office behind closed doors.
I will be delivering Part II of these remarks at the next school board meeting on Tuesday December 6th at City Hall.
Below is a copy of the letter to the Westchester County District Attorney that was read aloud by School Board President Chrisanne Petrone along with a copy of the email I sent to the school board referenced in the letter. [PDF document attached]
November 23, 2011
The Honorable Janet Difiore
Westchester County District Attorney
111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
White Plains, NY 10601
Dear District Attorney Difiore:
You may recall that on August 31, 2011, I forwarded to you a document given to a Board of Education Member, Ms. Naomi Brickel, by Robert Cox, a local "blogger," which purported to identify five employees of the City School District of the City of New Rochelle who had allegedly engaged in sex acts with school children. At that time, we asked both your office and the City of New Rochelle Police Commissioner to investigate these allegations because, if true, they constituted crimes against children, and should be investigated by law enforcement authorities.
Further to that request, we know that inquiries were, in fact, made by the New Rochelle Police Department. Unfortunately, however, we were given to understand that Mr. Cox told the police that he had no personal knowledge of what he had alleged; that the allegations were based upon statements which he had heard from third parties; and that he declined to identify those persons.
Mr. Cox has now sent a new set of allegations in an e-mail sent to all members of the Board of Education on November 12, 2011, a copy of which is enclosed. That e-mail repeats the allegations which we brought to your attention on August 31st, but also claims that there are additional victims of pedophile assaults, and that Mr. Cox believes there are (or were) videotape records of at least one, and possibly more alleged sexual encounters between staff and students.
As public officers, we need to see these claims resolved. If Mr. Cox has actual evidence which might lead to proof of crimes against children, then the persons who committed them must be prosecuted. If he does not have such evidence, then we need closure so that public confidence in our schools will not be eroded. Since he has alleged serious crimes, we believe that inquiry must be made by the agencies with the resources and expertise to do so. Once again, accordingly, we ask that you contact Mr. Cox as soon as possible to obtain any information bearing on possible crimes against children in the New Rochelle public schools.
The telephone number we have on file for Mr. Cox is (914) xxx-xxxx.
Again, we assure you that your office can count on the School District's full cooperation. Our Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Richard Organisciak, can be contacted at (914) 576-4200, and I can be reached at (914) xxx-xxxx (home) and (914) xxx-xxxx (cell). Our legal counsel, Jeffrey A. Kehl, Esq., can be reached at (212) 500-5030.
Please keep us advised of the investigation, to the extent permissible, as you proceed.
Thank for your prompt attention to this matter.
Chrisanne M. Petrone
President, Board of Education
City School District of New Rochelle
CC: Honorable Members of the Board of Education
Mr. Richard E. Organisciak, Superintendent of Schools
Jeffrey A. Kehl, Esq., Kehl, Katzive & Simon, LLP
Honorable Patrick Carroll, Police Commissioner, City of New Rochelle
E-mail from Robert Cox to New Rochelle Board of Education
From: Robert Cox.
Date: Sat, Nov 12, 2011 at 9:20 AM
Subject: New Rochelle and Penn State
To: Naomi Brickel, Jeffrey Hastie, Chrisanne Petrone, Rachel Relkin, Deirdre Polow, Lianne Merchant, David Lacher, Valerie Orellana.
From today's AP story on Penn State sex abuse scandal.
"The board also formed an investigative committee — headed by trustee Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc. — to dig into the allegations of wrongdoing. It will have the power to hire independent lawyers, and it plans to publicly release the entirety of its findings, Frazier said.
"The purpose of this investigation is to ensure that the public understands everything that we learn in this investigation and a report will be made completely public as quickly as we possibly can," Frazier said."
The apparent lack of interest among the NR BoE in independently determing the facts of who knew what and when in the Martinez case is, in my view, shameful. MANY people complained about Martinez' conduct with young boys. I have the names of six people who made formal complaints to the school building leaders, to Organisciak and Chrisanne. Those are just from people who contacted me; there has to be more.
Some questions to pursue is WHY were concerns about Martinez ignored? I have heard excuses but the facts show these people's concerns were 100% justified.
Why did Organisciak fail to inform the board on March 15 at its meeting that might that Martinez had abruptly resigned and disappeared the day before?
Why was the first board members heard about Martinez disappearing my story later that week?
Why did Organisciak send Bruce Daniele to Long Island to search for Martinez a week after he resigned and was no longer employed by the district? What were Daniele's orders and who gave them.
I know the victim that went to the police. Did you know that my first story was based on accusations made by the mother of a DIFFERENT student, a kid from Jefferson? That means two victims not one.
This is just the beginning.
If you look at the timeline in the Penn State case, you can see that people knew quite a bit about a serial pedophile operating at the school. You will see it took years for all the facts to begin to emerge. There are complaints involving TWO children, so far, with Martinez. You have had the Donna Henry case, Walter Hubbard, LeRoy Manuel, Robert McLean, Kyle Figueroa. You have a girl impregnated by one of your employees.
Your employees are actively engaged in covering these incidents up.
Add to that an increasingly clear track record of Organisciak not being forthcoming with the board (do you actually believe Organisciak had no idea that he was illegally employing administrators; and it's more than the two you have heard about. More on that soon enough).
At what point does the board start acting like a publicly elected board instead of conspirators in a cover up,
Why has this board not shown the slightest interest in using its full power to find out how many other Martinez victims there may be and who knew and failed to act. If there was ever an idea that a pedophile would have ONE victim, the Penn State case should dispel that notion.
There is every reason to believe that Martinez may have had many victims yet you have washed your hands of the matter. You are exactly like the Penn State officials who, after being told of a 10 year old being raped in a locker-room took away the rapist's keys to the locker-room. Like them you are more concerned about image than how many other victims are out there.
Create a special investigation committee, let them hire an experienced and independent attorney, give them full powers, make referrals to the DA as needed, clean house where necessary and make all of the findings public. Anything less and you are no better than the adults at Penn State who thought it was more important to protect the image of their school than to protect children.
I am now hearing about another incident of staff having sex with students at the high school. As in past cases there is, I am told, videotape. Bruce Daniele ERASES these tapes. What are you going to do about that?
On your watch, children are being raped at school and you have been asleep. Time to wake up.