The 14-year-old student who accused a teaching assistant of sexual misconduct is "a special needs boy with serious behavioral issues," said an attorney Sunday in rebutting the criminal charges against the aide.
Maria Contreras, 29, was arraigned Sunday on a slate of sex crimes accusing her of multiple episodes of intercourse and other sexual contact with a 14-year-old student in her apartment and at the Bronx Academy of Letters.
At the court hearing, a judge ordered Contreras held in lieu of $25,000 bond and $10,000 cash bail.
Contreras was fired from her position at the school just hours after her arrest Saturday night.
Attorney Ruth Hamilton of the Bronx Defenders stressed that while the boy's accusations should be seriously considered, there are no witnesses, physical evidence, video or text messages to support the allegations.
"And we have to keep in mind that this is the word of a special needs boy with serious behavioral issues, who is often suspended from school," she said. "She has never been alone with him."
Contreras, 29, a Bronx resident, is charged with six felony counts of second- and third-degree rape for the times she allegedly had sexual intercourse with the boy in November at her Barker Avenue residence, according to court records.
She is also charged with two felony counts of second-degree criminal sex act with a minor for alleged oral sex acts, the documents state.
Additionally, Contreras, who is married and has a child, is charged with forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse for allegedly groping the teen on more than one occasion last month at the school.
Hamilton said the school requires a teacher to be in a room with students at all times. Contreras could not be alone with a student at the academy, she said.
"This is an accusation that does not ring true," she said.
Contreras didn't speak at the arraignment. While being taken into custody by police on Saturday, she appeared to shake her head in denial of the accusations as news reporters approached her for comment.
Contreras was a substitute paraprofessional. Most paraprofessionals in the school system work in special education and early childhood development.