Claudia Tillery, who was arrested in 2011 for raping one of her Stephen Decatur Middle School students but then acquitted in 2014 in criminal court, is now filing a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education for “unfairly” firing her.
A city DOE hearing official found back in April that “a ‘preponderance of the credible record evidence’ proves that Tillery raped the youngster — then painted him as a ‘master manipulator’ to duck a criminal conviction.”
(The standard of proof in DOE hearings is less than that involved in criminal proceedings.)
The mother of two argues in her Manhattan Supreme Court suit against the DOE that she was deprived of due process because the hearing officer used sealed evidence from her criminal case and didn’t give proper credit to her own witnesses.
The suit doesn’t mention that Tillery’s witnesses were her own children and her homeless, schizophrenic baby daddy.
In her decision, DOE officer Haydee Rosario notes that a DNA test revealed both the student’s and the teacher’s saliva were on the teacher’s comforter cover.
Rosario also says the student recorded a video that shows his teacher putting her pants on in a motel room. Tillery and her young charge exchanged 8,000 text messages over two years using pseudonyms. In one message the teacher texted, “What’s up babe?”
Finally Tillery’s own credit-card records put her at the Motor Inn on seven occasions. Rosario didn’t buy the teacher’s claim that she simply took the student to the motel to “get him off the street” when he called her “upset and scared.”
Given all of the evidence, Rosario says Tillery’s termination is “the only appropriate penalty.”
A hearing officer “scoffed at Tillery’s claims that a 12-year-old ‘concocted a grand conspiracy and coerced her, a middle-school teacher, to ignore sound judgment and to put him into a fleabag motel and give him hundreds of dollars.’”