The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has warned since 2020 of increased child pornography cases because of the increased time adults and children spend online during the pandemic.
In a recent case reflecting this concerning trend, Jamall Russell, a 29-year-old teaching assistant for the New York City Department of Education (DOE), was arrested Tuesday night and charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl, the NYPD reported. Russell worked at PS 97Q The Forest Park School in Woodhaven, Queens. He was arrested in connection with sexually abusing a teen girl for at least a few months, authorities said.
Russell appeared at the NYPD’s 104th Precinct in Queens for an interview when cops arrested him on four charges: rape, criminal sexual act, acting in a manner detrimental to a minor, and sexual abuse, police said. The victim did not attend the school where Russell worked, the New York Post noted. Russell’s arraignment was pending Wednesday morning.
This case follows a string of similar arrests of educators and other adults in positions of authority in New York City in recent months. Earlier this month, a young public school teacher was arrested for allegedly exchanging sexual text messages with a 16-year-old student. Days before that, a math teacher was sued, fired, and indicted on child abuse charges for allegedly filming an 11-year-old student in a Manhattan Catholic school bathroom.
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Last month, Richard Leaf, a 75-year-old former teacher, and Westchester County high school sports broadcaster, admitted to receiving child pornography. In June, Steven Marksberry, an NYPD officer assigned to the Bronx, was arrested for allegedly possessing child porn. In April, Damon Rallis, former vice chair of the Southold Town Democratic Committee and Boy Scout leader, pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography. Also, in April, a New Jersey construction worker was charged with using child pornography.
Authorities urge vigilance in reporting any suspicious behaviors as online child exploitation rises. All charges are mere accusations until proven in a court of law.
If you suspect someone is being abused, especially a minor or elderly, seek help by calling 988 or 1.888.NYCWELL (1.888.692.9355), texting “WELL” to 65173, or reviewing information at https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/.