A public school custodian was arrested on child rape charges on Monday. Here's how the Daily News wrote up the story:
A janitor at a Brooklyn elementary school was charged today with raping and sodomizing an 8-year-old girl in a school bathroom.
Francis Evelyn, 58, of Brooklyn, was charged eight days after the unidentified student told her mother of the attacks, which allegedly occurred between Feb. 1 and March 9, police said.
The numerous sexual assaults took place during school hours in a basement bathroom adjacent to the cafeteria at Public School 91 in Wingate, cops said.
Bail for Francis Evelyn, 58, was set at $150,000 during his arraignment on rape, sex
abuse and other charges. His attorney denied any wrongdoing.
Evelyn does not have any prior arrests, police said.
The girl was examined by doctors before the man's 3:30 p.m. arrest yesterday, a police source said.
But investigators were not able to take DNA evidence from the student because the last alleged encounter occurred 10 days before the arrest, the source said.
Evelyn faces rape, criminal sex act, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child charges, officials said.
Lo and behold, after two spending two days in Rikers Island jail where he was physically threatened and abused by inmates, Mr. Evelyn had the charges against him dropped:
After days of falsely being portrayed as a child rapist, a Brooklyn school custodian broke down in tears yesterday as the charges against him were dismissed.
"Just kill me," a distraught Francis Evelyn, 58, muttered to family members who tried to soothe him as he left Brooklyn Criminal Court.
Evelyn had been led out of Public School 91 in Wingate in handcuffs on Monday and spent two days in jail at Rikers Island after an 8-year-old girl said he had repeatedly molested her in a basement bathroom between Feb. 1 and March 9.
But the Trinidad native knew he was innocent.
"I went through hell," Evelyn later told Channel 7 news.
He said he would never forget being in jail - his first time ever behind bars, the station reported.
"They were threatening me, and tell me they're going to take me out, they're gonna cut my throat," he said. "It's their sister, their niece. It was hell."
Questions about the case quickly surfaced after sources said the second-grader had been abused in the past and had recently accused another student.
Tuesday night, prosecutors rushed to court to request that Evelyn be released on his own recognizance after initially asking for $150,000 bail.
"People are dismissing the charges due to insufficient evidence," prosecutor Roger McCreedy told Judge William Garnett yesterday as Evelyn clasped his hands and bowed his head.
"Dismissed and sealed," Garnett responded.
School officials reinstated Evelyn to his job a few hours later.
PS 91's widely respected principal, Solomon Long, has been yanked from the post he held for 16 years for allegedly failing to report an abuse charge the child previously made against another person.
Long remains exiled at a district office, pending an investigation. The principals union is calling for him to be returned to his post.
For his part, Evelyn has one wish for his future.
"I want my name to be cleared," Evelyn told Channel 7. "I want to walk the street with my head up."
We live in a society where every abuse allegation made by a child against an adult is believed. While I believe it is important we take every abuse allegation made by a child against an adult seriously, wouldn't it be prudent to look into some of the claims a little more closely before throwing the accused into Rikers?
Take the Evelyn case. Here was a man who had never before been accused of any misdeeds. Here was a child who had been abused in the past, had recently made abuse charges against another student, and had made at least one other charge of abuse in the past that had gotten the principal of the school suspended. Given the numerous (and in some cases, dubious) abuse claims the child had previously made, shouldn't investigators have moved a little more cautiously before grabbing the custodian and tossing him into Rikers where the good inmates could threaten to kill him for being a child rapist?
Mr. Evelyn was put through hell and his name and reputation have been sullied (although at least the Daily News ran the exoneration article in a prominent place in the paper...usually when accusations are proven false, the exoneration article goes on page 72 right by the horse racing results.) Is there a way that society can effectively protect children from predators AND
protect innocent adults accused of false charges from having to go through what Mr. Evelyn went through?