A teacher at Mission Hill K-8 School in Boston has been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested on charges that he indecently assaulted an 8-year-old child at a local hospital over the weekend, officials said.
Juan P. Cortes, 25, of Jamaica Plain, was arraigned on one count of indecent assault and battery on a child in Boston Municipal Court Monday for the alleged incident, which took place at Boston Medical Center on Sunday, according to statement from the office of Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley.
Bail was set at $500 cash, and Cortes was ordered to abide by a curfew, wear a GPS monitor, and stay away from children under the age of 16, the statement said.
At about 6 p.m. Sunday, law enforcement officials responded to a call for a sexual assault at BMC, where they spoke to witnesses, including hospital officials who had viewed surveillance footage of the area where the alleged assault took place, and subsequently arrested Cortes, according to Conley’s office. Police immediately notified Boston school officials, according to authorities.
Details about the relationship between the child and Cortes were not released, to protect the victim’s privacy, the statement from the district attorney said. A spokesman for the district attorney would not comment on whether the child is a Mission Hill school student.
Cortes, who teaches third and fourth grade at Mission Hill K-8 School, was placed on administrative leave Monday, according to a notice sent by principal Ayla Gavins.
“We are cooperating fully with the Boston Police Department, which has acted aggressively and with urgency to investigate the situation and press charges,” Gavins said in the statement. “This is the right thing for them to do to protect all children. The allegations are still just that, but they are absolutely unacceptable.”
Cortes has been teaching at the school for several years, Gavins said.
“Like you, we have a lot of questions,” she said. “The priority now is to protect the young person who this individual is alleged to have hurt.”
Boston schools Superintendent John McDonough said in a statement Monday that Cortes had passed background checks conducted on employees at the school.
Nancy Sadecki of Jamaica Plain, mother of a third-grader at the Mission Hill school, said although she does not know Cortes well, she was surprised by the allegations.
“He doesn’t strike me as that kind of person,” Sadecki said. “He seems like an upstanding responsible adult, but if it [the assault allegations] were to be true, I would be shocked and definitely concerned.”
Paris Peters, a Dorchester resident who also has a child in third grade at the school, said although the nature of the allegations are serious, the incident should not reflect on the quality of the school.
“I’m not worried about my child’s safety,” Peters said. “It’s a wonderful school, and I’ve never had any issues. This [the alleged assault] is something that happened off of campus, and until I hear exactly what happened, I don’t want to jump to conclusions.”
Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement that the allegations were shocking and were being taken very seriously.
“There is absolutely nothing more important than the safety of our students, and this has stunned our community,” he said, adding that he was confident the School Department, police, and district attorney’s office “are working in partnership to do everything possible in pursuing this matter.”