NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City teacher’s aide already accused of possessing child pornography was jailed Tuesday after prosecutors brought new allegations that he videotaped himself spanking one naked child and fondling another in a public elementary school classroom.
FBI agents arrested Taleek Brooks, 40, at his Brooklyn apartment on Monday night after an investigation uncovered the videos on a computer seized last month from the home, authorities said.
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A criminal complaint mentioned only two alleged victims — both believed by the federal authorities to be current or former students at the Weeksville School in Brooklyn, where Brooks had worked since 1995. The FBI held out the possibility there could be more student victims and was encouraging parents to come forward if they have information. Agents were expected to be at the school on Wednesday to pursue leads.
“As chancellor, and as a father, I am horrified and disgusted at the charges we learned of today from the FBI,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement after the meeting with the staff and PTA president. “Our paramount concern is for the safety of our students, and we are cooperating fully with the federal authorities as they continue their investigation.”
The city Department of Education first hired Brooks for a summer job in 1991, when he was fingerprinted and passed a background check. He was given a full-time job as a teacher’s aide with the school system in 1993.
Brooks also had worked with children at an after-school program affiliated with Weeksville. Program director Christa McCarthy-Miller said Tuesday that the defendant had passed routine background checks, and that she wasn’t aware of any previous complaints against him.
As a “group leader” for about 14 children, Brooks’ job was to encourage them to make “positive life choices,” McCarthy-Miller said.
“We’re obviously very saddened by this,” she said.
Though different in the nature of the accusations and the number of alleged victims, the case called to mind the unfolding scandal at a Los Angeles elementary school in which a teacher is suspected of blindfolding and molesting children in his classroom.
According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, an examination of a home computer and two external hard drives seized from Brooks uncovered a stash of self-produced child porn.
The videos included two taken in a school classroom, one of Brooks touching a child’s genitals and another of him spanking a naked child, the complaint says. Investigators believe they were shot sometime between January 2008 and January 2011.
A letter sent to parents alerted to them to the accusations against Brooks, saying that “these incidents may have occurred on school grounds.” It advised families to call an FBI tip line if they had information about the case.
A previous complaint had accused Brooks of sending pornographic photos and videos of children to an undercover agent he met online. The complaint says one of the images was of a man having sex with a boy who appeared to be about 10.
Following the exchange, FBI agents searched Brooks’ home on Jan. 13. The complaint alleges that during the search, Brooks “admitted that he had been downloading and sharing child pornography for approximately seven years.” He also “indicated that he had collected and saved over 1,000 digital files on his computer containing child pornography,” the complaint adds.
If convicted of producing child porn, Brooks faces a minimum 15 years in prison.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press