Progress High School Administrators William Abreu and Juan Martinez Raped Students, Used Threats of Deportation To Keep One Quiet, Investigation Reveals
It's pretty clear at this point that a pair of former high school administrators shouldn't be allowed near high school girls anymore, or perhaps women in general, or maybe just other carbon-based life forms. William Abreu was yanked from his job as assistant principal at Progress High School in Williamsburg last year, after an investigation revealed that he had made "inappropriate sexual remarks" to female students applying for summer jobs in 2011. According to a newly-released investigation from the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District, that's one of his lesser offenses. Commissioner Richard J. Condon reports that Abreu also raped and sexually assaulted female students, threatening to report one to immigration authorities if she refused. And he wasn't the only one.
Condon's office says their investigation also substantiated sexual abuse allegations against Juan Martinez, the founder and president of Progress Inc., an after-school program. According to the report, Abreu raped a 17-year-old student in his office in the summer of 2009. Martinez forced a 16-year-old student to perform oral sex in March of 2011. Both men also groped the two girls and "subjected these students to repeated sexual comments," the report says. Abreu told the 17-year-old that "having sex with him and Martinez was a condition of her office job at Progress High, and he asked the student to have sex with others in exchange for money." He also stole $1500 from the 16-year-old's mother after falsely promising to use it to hire an immigration attorney for her.
The alleged incidents only came to light years later, in July of 2012, when someone requesting confidentiality contacted the commissioner's office and told them that the men were asking students to perform sexual acts in exchange for money and gifts. When the office interviewed Student A, then a twelfth-grader, she recounted that she first went to Abreu's office in the tenth grade, to report being bullied. Abreu asked if she wanted a job. After several months, the report says, he started telling her to "dress sexy," and that he'd give her money for clothes and hair styling. Eventually, she told investigators, he said, "If you want to continue to work here, you have to have sexual relations with me."
Abreu told the student she'd also have to have sex with Martinez. Moreover, the report says, he told her "that he planned to take her to out-of-town 'political functions' where she would be paid for having sex with others."
When the girl refused, Abreu sent her to Martinez's office, she told investigators, who groped her and forced her to perform oral sex. She told no one what had happened until the reports came out last year of Abreu making sexual comments to other students, telling investigators she had "repressed" the incident.
Student B told investigators she was approached by Abreu the day she graduated Progress High. She started working in the office the first day of the summer session of 2009. Soon after, Abreu told her he'd find her an immigration attorney, since she was undocumented. To pay for the attorney's fees, he told her, "You could be my girlfriend."
When she refused, Abreu told her, "If you don't allow me to touch you, I'll call Immigration," before raping her. She worked in the office for one month; the attacks continued the entire time. During that time, her mother also met with Abreu on the subject of finding an immigration attorney; she brought him $1,500 cash, and he introduced her to a man calling himself "Hyman Rodriguez," who claimed to be a lawyer. But she was never able to contact him from the information on a business card he gave her. Abreu, too, stopped returning her calls.
Abreu is now on leave without pay, according to the report, which recommends firing him and making him ineligible for any future Department of Ed jobs. Martinez, who's not a school employee, had been barred from entering the school while the investigation was underway. Both men declined to speak to investigators.
Abreu also declined to speak with the New York Times, although Martinez's lawyer, James Cullen, told the paper, "Mr. Martinez completely denies all the allegations of wrongdoing contained in the report and completely believes in his innocence." Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes is now reviewing the report and the allegations for possible criminal charges.
The full report is below. As you may have guessed, it's extremely disturbing. Consider yourself forewarned.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- Here Are the Locations From 'Kids,' Twenty Years Later
Sat., Aug. 1, 12:00am
Sat., Aug. 1, 1:00pm
Sat., Aug. 1, 2:00pm
Sat., Aug. 1, 7:00pm
- What Can We Learn From Donald Trump's Twitter Account?
- East Village Rapist Sentenced to 16 Years After DNA Databank Returns a Cold Hit