Teens arrested for sex abuse at Union Square School

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested four teenagers for sexually abusing another student inside a Union Square school last week.

The three teenage boys were charged with sexual abuse inside the Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street on Tuesday, February 11 at 3:47 p.m. after police said that the boys abused a girl at the school.

According to the victim, four teenage boys, one of whom has not been arrested, coerced her into taking an explicit photo in exchange for a Supreme sweatshirt sometime the previous week. The victim said that she originally agreed to take a photo in exchange for the sweatshirt but the teens later pressured her into saying in a video that she had consented to taking a photo of her buttocks with their faces. The teenage girl said that one of the suspects then grabbed her by the arm and led her to the third floor bathroom, where he took a photo of her.

Police said that the suspects coerced her into taking additional photos on the following Monday, the day before they were arrested, with the three additional suspects in the basement bathroom, this time taking photos of the victim’s breasts and spanking her. Police said that all four of the suspects wrote on the victim’s breasts with markers. The victim was removed to Beth Israel Hospital.

The four teens who were arrested were charged with sexual abuse.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said that three teenagers were arrested in this incident. The victim and the NYPD confirmed that it was actually four boys that were arrested. This story has also been edited to reflect that the victim felt that she had been coerced into taking the photos, rather than bullied. 

UPDATE, Feb. 28: Town & Village is working on a follow-up story about the school’s response to this incident and would like to speak with any students and parents who have thoughts or concerns about this situation. Please email editor Maria Rocha-Buschel at editor@townvillage.net to get in touch. Names can be withheld from the story on request.

Many comments on this post also need to be manually approved and as a result, may not appear immediately. Comments may also be edited or not approved at the discretion of the editor if they contain possible rumors or speculation about either the victim or the suspect, in an attempt to prevent misinformation from spreading about this incident.

43 thoughts on “Teens arrested for sex abuse at Union Square School

  1. The silence about sexual abuse at the Clinton School is not alright. The administration decided to be silent about sexual abuse and has broken my trust as a parent. A weak and disgusting decision to conceal sexual abuse sends a strong lifelong message to young people. I had to learned about this from my child this evening, the day of the Weinstein verdict, weeks after the events. Is that a child’s responsibility? I have been informed of nothing from the school about what happened weeks ago. In fact, yesterday I read an inane Letters from Levin email about his family ski vacation. A major snow job of inaction, silence, patronizing attitude and image control. What happened to the 4th accused young man? How was a young woman pulled into a restroom and abused TWICE over the course of a week is what I am now wondering about Clinton? Is the administration leaving this to students and parents to deal with by texting one another and reading the news? What happened to any plans to address this important traumatic sexual abuse that occurred before winter break? A disingenuous textbook performance in bad faith and expediency… Parents and students need better than this silence about sexual abuse. No more silence about sexual abuse!

    • In the 2 weeks since this disturbing event occurred the principal has made NO COMMENT about the school’s position regarding sexual bullying, predators, and victims.
      Not to students.
      Not to parents.
      In fact many children and parents learned of this only after this article was published. And they were shocked to discover it’s an ongoing event 2 weeks old.
      But even now, with this being public knowledge, still no statements of ANY sort have been made.
      No one is asking that names be named, just that some statement, some reassurance is given.
      How do we know this will not, can not, happen again if it’s never addressed?
      Does the school even care?
      …By contrast, when a student has lice, a notice is sent out immediately.

      Students are left to whisper and worry in halls and on their texts.
      Parents have been given no reassurances to pass on to their children that they are spending the day at a safe place.

      The principal makes a show of standing outside Clinton every morning, but in dealing with this important and vital issue he is completely absent.

      • To respond, I am a Clinton student and Mr. Levin and the entire administration has kept this under the radar for “privacy reasons”, however, every student and parent should have been alerted as to what’s going on. The victim was told by administrative staff to go to classes-classes she has with the 4 boys- and that she can’t “withhold going to classes forever”, on HER FIRST DAY BACK. not only this, but she is facing major backlash from the student community, people calling her a liar and a whore, and nothing is being done about this. Social media posts have been made attacking her. To let you know, ALL 4 boys were arrested on a Tuesday, and then showed up for the next three days to school like nothing had happened. This is an unsafe environment. The victim has dropped charges because she cannot afford a lawyer, but even so, this should at least be handled by some level by the DOE and the administration. Also this story is not entirely truthful to what happened. Minor details aren’t the same, however this post was also made without the victims consent. I am beyond disappointed in how the school has handled this, and how they expect her to “move on” after two weeks. This is something that will stay with her forever, and it is completely horrifying to think that she could somehow be okay within weeks of the assault.

        • Hello,

          Thank you for posting this information and being a good friend to the victim. Please let the victim know that there’s a lot of supporting parents at school that are willing to help if needed. Has she thought of a public defender? I read the comments below so please consider putting a go fund me page up for her.

        • As a Clinton student who is currently organizing a sit-in and running a petition, if people want to talk or have questions, I’m here as well

      • To respond to some questions, I am a clinton student and I want to address a few things. For starters, when the administration was told about this terrible situation they went straight to the NYPD due to “Protocol”, however in the days following the assault, though administrative staff were empathetic, the victim was told she needs to “get over it at some point”, and that she “will need to attend classes”, only two days after the assault, and also take the classes that the boys who SEXUALLY ASSAULTED her are in. Also, on the Tuesday that this happened, ALL four boys were arrested, not just three, and all returned to school the day(s) after, freely walking around the halls. Not only this, but this has become an unsafe environment (even more so) for the victim because she is facing backlash from her peers-who were in no way involved- calling her a liar and other unfair names, and there is nothing being done to handle the amount of hate from social media and in school she is receiving. The comments, and social media posts about her have been reported several times, and the administration has done nothing about it. When this happened, Mr. Levin should have immediately contacted parents, but didn’t because of “privacy reasons”. The victim also dropped charges against the four boys because she can’t afford a lawyer, and somehow that makes everyone think that everything is somehow okay again with the four boys. In addition to this, I personally contacted the vice principal and asked if some sort of assembly/open conversation about sexual assault/violence/harassment could be held in classes with the whole school, to which her her response was “I’ve noticed that assemblies tend to bore the students”…what am I supposed to do with that?” Nothing is being done, nobody is addressing the severe damage that the victim had and will have to go through. This is a severely disgusting system. For her to be told by people she trusts enough to confide in, to tell her that she needs to get over it in the future is horrifying. This is a trauma she will never be able to recover from, let alone within days of the assault. I’m appalled.

        • Anonymous Student: it stems from a horrible situation but I am heartened that there are young people like you. You are doing the victim a good turn even just with these comments you’ve posted. Do you know her? Could you find out if she / her family could benefit from a gofundme or something to help them get a lawyer or deal with other related expenses from the ordeal?

        • A neighborhood dad: Thank you for your comment! For some reason I can’t reply directly to you but I am very close with the victim, and she has received many offers from parents of close friends to help out financially. Also just to let everybody know the three boys who actually physically touching her only facing a three day in school suspension. ALSO for everybody to know, several posters were put up advocating for consent all around the school yesterday and by the end of the day, 2 of my female friends went into the boys bathroom after school to put up more posters and found at least 20 of the posters in the urinals with urine completely saturating them. These posters are about consent in general, and sexual abuse in general, not specific to this particular story. By tearing posters like this down, you are not only invalidating this victim, but you are invalidating EVERY SINGLE VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.

    • My daughter has preferenced Clinton for middle school. Does anyone know if the accused and victim are all in the high school or was this high school boys and middle school girl, or all middle school? this is a serious issue either way, but even more troubling if it is happening at the youngest ages and/or the school is not managing the potential power differential that exists when much older kids are schooled with much younger kids.

      • This has only occurred between high school students. However, there are some concerning events that I’ve heard about from some middle schoolers regarding racism and homophobia.

      • As a current HS parent, I would say this whole thing is a tragic illustration of the lack of true care for the students by the administration.

        I deeply regret letting my kid stay there for HS for so many reasons. This is a hideous last straw.

    • This is so well spoken. Thank you for speaking up. As a student, it should not be my job to tell my parent kids are getting arrested for assault.

  2. Another Clinton parent here, and I share Name withheld’s sentiments 100%. The school administration has lost the trust of the parents and the respect of the students by choosing silence over any attempt at real remedy and mitigation. The principal’s weekly emails about his family ski trips and lacrosse games may have been antic and zany in the beginning, but are now wearing thin on everyone. In the past few months alone, this school has had sexual abuse on its premises, and white supremacist/racist social media postings by a few of its students. Recently, the students were asked in an open setting to raise their hands if they felt unsafe at school – everyone raised his/her hand. It is clear that the school administration has lost control, and is not equipped to resolve these many grievous issues. The culture is clearly damaged at this school, and the administration’s silence and lack of real commitment to manage these issues are actually perpetuating the problem further. There needs to be a major intervention here before more of our kids end up real victims of racist attacks or sexual abuse. I cannot believe I am even posting something like this in the context of my kid’s school, this is awful.

      • I don’t believe this mob mentality is very helpful or is promoting healing within the community. Things are not so black and white. Do we know all of the facts, all of the privacy and legal issues, what role the police had vs. the school? What actions would you have taken if you were the principal?Should the principal be castigated because some teen students used appalling judgment? What do the boys’ parents have to say? What should be public is an apology to the girl. The boys’ parents should take some leadership in encouraging this if they care at all about healing the community.

        For what it is worth, my children have been at other public schools where horrific incidents took place frequently and were never made public. They were always covered up.

        And just take a step back, how is Levin’s friendly letter hurting the community? He doesn’t have the right to continue his traditional missive? My daughter looks to the whimsical letter every week.

        Before you rage, consider that there are likely complicated legal, liability and privacy issues that need follow up. It is unfair to rail on the school, as if to erase everything good the faculty aims to do on a daily basis. I’m disappointed that you seem to hold the principal responsible for what the boys did. The boys and their parents should be held accountable.

  3. This is outrageous! Principal made a big show of things when there was a possible racist post on social media. Sent letter to parents, held an assembly and brought in all kinds of organizations to discuss the “problem.” Now there is a real problem and he does absolutely nothing! Insulting to get an email about his ski trip with no mention of this newest horrific incident. He would not have to name anyone – just let parents know that they are investigating. Nothing!

    • To be clear, racism at Clinton is a REAL problem. Students of color at Clinton have felt unsafe day in and out for many years. There have been countless racially charged incidents of varying levels on a weekly basis. This is a very REAL problem. The school reflects a 70% white student population, making it a highly segregated school in the NYC public school system that is 70% black and Hispanic. Let’s pause and check our biases. Also, Students of Color organized the assembly after the blackface to address the GLARING PROBLEM. Yes, young women at Clinton deserve to feel safe, but students of color also deserve to feel safe. In a majority white school lets all check our own privilege, and refrain from further opressing and dismissing the experience of people of color at Clinton l, and in our society. Statistically there is REAL and RECENT evidence that people of color are oppressed in terms of education, healthcare, the justice system, the prison system, etc… The inequities are vast. If your child was a person of color at Clinton or in our society you would be well aware of how real these injustices are. Please check yourself, your biases, and support all students.

  4. I have stumbled across this article and began to read the comments. What a terrible administrative approach. I was considering sending my child to this neighborhood school in the next few years and will have to reconsider this choice. How shameful it is to be uninformed about this case as parents and to note that only 3 out of 4 involved were detained. Does this mean that the 1 student is roaming around school halls? How does this make students feel safe? This should be referred to the Central Office of education due to lack of attention.

    • Coming from a current Clinton student, please do not send your child here unless some miracle happens. I am scared, and no other student should be subject to these events.

  5. The problem with Principal Joe Levin, whether this incident is major, or unimportant (as he has said), is that his total lack of response leaves children and parents in limbo.
    Joe Levin may not think it’s important that students in his care were arrested at his school, that the bathrooms and hallways might now be seen as unsafe by other students, and that parents now have to worry about the day to day safety of their children.

    This could have been a perfect time to remind students to treat their bodies with respect, to respect others, and not to condone nor allow bullying (of any nature).
    The school could have rolled out a standard talk and students and parents might have had an alert and reassurances already in place when this article was discovered and read by students as young as 11.

    Instead Joe Levin has hidden behind the idea that this is not important, that he can say nothing by law, and that he hadn’t considered any statement that might be allowed. Although he said he would consider the idea to make a statement of policy against bullying the next time this happens, if it happens again. (!)
    What sort of education is he providing when he doesn’t act when these things happen, but instead waits till the next time?

    • Unimportant!?!?!?!?!?! Did he actually use that word?!?!!?!This man should not be a principal of a school and certainly should not be allowed to be in charge of children.

    • This is not just bullying! This is sexual abuse! And if this is true, that he called it it important, I am even more infuriated than I already was about the lack of communication to parents and students about this.

  6. Have you people lost your mind?!?!? Maybe you should read the article carefully before judging other people!! The incident happened 2 DAYS ago and not 2 weeks, so how would you like him to comment on this over the weekend?? Also have you considered that since there is an investigation ongoing that he simply CAN’t make any comments in public?!?!? I have complete faith that once he is able to speak about this he will do the right thing.

  7. I was just informed that not only is one of the young men involved in this still going to classes, but is on the basketball team and is playing today. I believe in innocence until proven guilty but shouldn’t there be suspensions while the investigation is going on? I also find it interesting that so many are writing anonymously. Fear of retaliation is scary anywhere but at school with innocent kids?

    • I go to Clinton and he got kicked off the team. The last I heard was that two freshmen were involved but I wasn’t sure who it was. A lot of students in friends with are really shaken by this incident, especially since many people were still at school in clubs that day. It’s really horrific and I’ve heard a ton of talk about people transferring. I myself am very disappointed in the school’s response to this and many people feel this way too. There’s lately been a lot of racist and sexist comments and I haven’t even heard about it until today when I noticed a paper posted by a student that hung on the walls. There’s to much coverage on these subjects and I would’ve thought that the staff would’ve taken more action and filled in the students.

      • I also go to Clinton and it is two sophomores and a senior who were involved. If what everyone has told me is true, I know all of them. I totally agree with Anonymous on everything else, I am scared and repulsed.

  8. Im a parent from the school. Im holding my name back, not for fear of retribution, but so as not to embarrass my child (teenagers!) Obviously what has happened is terrible and action needs to be taken immediately to prevent anything like this happening again. I notice that Jon Levine (not Joe) has come in for a lot of criticism. I just want to say that in my dealings with him in the past, he has been incredibly professional, dedicated and caring. He has done a lot for the school, teachers and kids. I’m sure that this is a complicated area with legal issues that need to be considered. My hope is that all issues, questions and actions are addressed as soon as possible.

    • He is professional and dedicated when he starts to get backlash. He is not transparent, smart on his feet, or ahead of the curve, characteristics a school admin needs.

  9. I am a Clinton student and am thoroughly disgusted not only by this horrible event, but by the way admin has dealt with this situation so far. Considering other happenings, such as a blackface incident, fecal matter thrown in school bathrooms, anti-semitic graffiti, slut-shaming, racism, homophobia, and other such events, I have never heard of any valid repercussions or discussion with students from admin, other than a less than heartfelt assembly once after the blackface incident. Mr. Levin himself has even said that he doesn’t like having assemblies. Parents and students should be notified when things like this happen. I couldn’t care less about the content in “Letters From Levin”. I want to know what has happened, how it is being handled, and how students will be educated. I get information about this from friends. I have seen the sexual assaulters at school just days after the assaults. Everything at this school tends to be ignored, which is disappointing and frankly, terrifying. Additionally, students have an innate trust for an authority figure, who in this case is Mr. Levin. However, because of recent muteness on admin’s part, many students have lost trust and faith in the leadership of our school’s principal. Students almost seem empowered to say controversial things “just for the hell of it”, for lack of a better term, because of the administration’s lax policies and ignorance. I know no one who feels safe at this school, and I for one am afraid in class, walking through the halls, and now using the restroom. Some of my friends want to transfer out. Others are too afraid too speak up. I should be concerned about the SATs and my upcoming tests, but I find myself consumed with fear and anxiety whenever I step foot into this school building.

  10. A lot of parents are particularly troubled because in the wake of this new and unavoidably public information, there is now much more information coming to light about a pattern of behaviors by Clinton students over the past 3 years (ranging from inappropriate to discriminatory to harassing), much of which was not properly addressed by the school because of the school’s stated concern for protecting privacy. The parent community was informed about a few, but certainly not informed about most of these incidents. The issue for parents is that the administration’s focus on protecting privacy over the past 3 years has had impact on there being a lack of adequate efforts to effectively institute proper procedural, corrective action, anti-retaliation, school culture and behavioral learning practices. This lack of adequate efforts to respond to a pervasive series of incidents over some years translates into the school not having done the essential aspects of what legal compliance requires (other than the privacy aspects of compliance) nor the good educational “preventative medicine” work that a more caring and responsible group of educators would have done; and that may partially account for why these recent unlawful acts possibly weren’t understood to be wrong and unlawful by the students involved.

  11. Clinton parent here,this administration has chosen to hide behind privacy concerns,yet this neighborhood newspaper has managed to get private info and put it out so everyone can read it.The administration claims to ignore the rest of the parents and hide behind the supposedly privacy of the students.Who or where did this newspaper get this sensitive info,and if parents are finding out through this medium,the least a proper school leader should do is to acknowledge the incident and make sure parent’s minds are at ease.I believe this Principal is way over his head in handling 2 schools.I believe the Middle school is a great place to learn,even though there were a couple of incidents.The high school is something completely different,at the parent’s meeting,he made a point of saying that he was proud of the fact that police have been involved in 3 incidents,what he didn’t say,was that those 3 times have happened within 2 years,not going to comment on what these incidents were ,because people would be further outraged.I believe implementing the IB program was probably too ambitious,maybe gradually introducing it would have been a better approach,but it seems as if he was going to keep the privileged families at any price.Let’s be real here ,the school is 70% white,in a city that has many Blacks ,Latinos and Asians ,the amount of diversity in this school is appalling.

  12. Pingback: Clinton students sit in after lack of response from admin after sex abuse | Town & Village

  13. I am appalled by this! The school is my daughter’s first choice but she will not be going as I am now concerned for her safety. How does the principal not address this? You can keep privacy but dealing with the issues of bullying, sexual harassment, sexual abuse are topics that need to be addressed and not hidden for everyone’s safety. I was not impressed by the principal at all during the school tour, riding on his high horse and laurels. Ineffective is the word. This should be made public so that all parents and students know the truth around Clinton and what really happens behind closed doors!

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