By Victor Ochieng
A middle school teacher, who was fired over accusations that she raped a 12-year-old student, might have her dismissal overturned after she made claims that the city used evidence it shouldn’t have.
The teacher, Claudia Tillery, 45, was charged with the rape of a male student and intoxicating him with alcohol and drugs back in 2011.
New York Supreme Court Judge Alice Schlesinger might have Tillery’s dismissal reversed, following a lawsuit filed by Tillery at the Manhattan-based court, in which she claimed that the officer from the Department of Education who oversaw her case improperly relied on sealed evidence, prosecutor’s testimony and DNA tests to kick her out of her job.
She filed the lawsuit following a not guilty verdict in her case in April 2014.
The biggest challenge is that the city never came clean on how it acquired the evidence it relied on to fire Tillery.
In a counter argument, Nick Paolucci, a Law Department spokesman said that “all the evidence DOE used in its termination proceedings was obtained and used lawfully.”
But even with that argument, Schlesinger still holds that the process was not in line with the law.
“I do agree that a teacher having a relationship with a 12-year-old boy, or a girl, is way, way, way beyond acceptable,” said Schlesinger. “But they had no authority to unseal a sealed record.”
According to the New York Post, Schlesinger says “it’s clear that no one ever went to court to get an unsealing order…and it probably would have been denied.”
The judge postponed her ruling pending the submission of additional written arguments from both parties.
“Alice is not one to let rapists and killers out on the street,” said Betsy Combier, a paralegal who offers legal defense services to accused educators, reports the New York Post. Combier goes on to say that regardless, you “don’t violate procedure in front of her and don’t use information you shouldn’t have had. She’s not going to allow it.”
In 2011, when serving as a teacher at the Brooklyn-based Stephen Decatur School, she was accused of having a s*xual relationship with a male student. The relationship was reported to have started as early as 2009, at a time the boy was just 12 years old.
Tillery was slapped with several different charges, namely, rape, s*xual misconduct, illegal dealing of alcohol and drugs to a child, acting in a character that’s injurious to a child, and s*xual abuse.
The Department of Education’s hearing officer Haydee Rosario argues that although Tillery was acquitted, her conduct was and is still unacceptable of her position, in which she had served for nearly two decades.