Sexual Offenses in New York – Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

We’ve pointed out in the past that when it comes to sexual offenses, one of the basic and essential concepts of criminal law – that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – seems to vanish. Another example of this phenomenon appeared in an article in yesterday’s Daily News.

The headline reads “Assistant principal pulled from Brooklyn’s Progress High School for sex remarks to female students applying for summer jobs.” The assistant principal, William Abreu, has been accused by several female applicants for summer jobs last year of making sexually explicit comments, including encouraging them to engage in sexual acts.

If you read the article, a few things stand out. First, the word “alleged” is curiously absent; in fact, the only time it appears in the article is in a reference to Abreu’s secretary, who reportedly has been suspended for “allegedly” misleading investigators looking into the case. And if you view the article online, while the word appears in one of the side links, it refers to the assistant principal as an “alleged perv”..

The use of phraseology, or the lack thereof, to produce a reaction that the subject is guilty is also evident in other aspects of the article. For example, the author found it necessary to state that Abreu “has been married at least twice,” a fact which proves what – that Abreu is a sexual deviant or a bigamist? In addition, while accusatory allegations are reported as facts, the denial by Abreu is colored with the statement that he was “furious,” and when asked by reporters about the allegations, he “snarled” in denying any wrongdoing. This is reminiscent of the old Westerns, where it was the Native Americans who “ambushed” the cowboys and “raided” their settlements, words rarely used in describing the conduct of the settlers.

Now we have no personal knowledge of what happened at Progress High School, and it may be that the assistant principal did what has been alleged. Perhaps he’ll ultimately be charged with a crime related to the incidents. Time will tell. We bring the matter up to reaffirm to those charged with sexual offenses that this New York sex crimes lawyer believes that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty, and we will fight for your rights every step of the way.

George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 682-0700