CONCOURSE, the Bronx — An after-school program counselor accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old student he was supposed to be helping was in court on Thursday. It was clear, both there and at the school where Michael Jenkins used to work, that concern over his case of alleged attempted child rape remains intense a month after his arrest.
Jenkins, 24, had to face both PIX11's camera and the judge, as well as a list of felony charges.
"You are charged with criminal sexual act in the second degree, and related charges," the bailiff said.
Other charges include attempted rape, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
Jenkins was a counselor for an after school program at Angelo Patri Middle School in the Fordham Heights section of the Bronx. Detectives arrested him last month after conducting an investigation that concluded that he had invited a girl to his home where he engaged her in a criminal sex act.
Jenkins pled not guilty in court on Thursday.
"He has a lot of family support and he has a lot of roots in the community," his attorney, Kelli Ogbuzuo said. "As his plea stands, he's pled not guilty, and he'll fight the case to the end."
Parents from the school expressed skepticism.
"She's young," Gloria Pagan, the mother of a 7th grader at the school, said about the alleged sex abuse survivor. "He, as a man, should've known 'This is gonna get me in trouble.' So he is guilty, even if he says he's not."
Pagan was among many parents at the school who cannot get Jenkins's arrest off their minds. The same is true for many students. Female students in particular are uneasy about their safety, according to one student.
"Many girls are saying now they want girl teachers," Delayla Pagan, Gloria's daughter, said. "Not guy teachers as much."
Jenkins had worked as a subcontractor for an organization that provided after school activities at M.S. 391 on behalf of the city's Department of Youth and Community Development.
On Thursday evening, DYCD released a statement. “Immediately following the alleged incident in December,” said spokesperson Mark Zustovich, “the individual was suspended without pay and prohibited from working in any DOE schools. The afterschool provider’s contract at MS 391 has since been terminated, and a new organization has been selected to operate the program.”
Jenkins has his next hearing on Feb. 6.