Teacher’s aide at special ed school allegedly took a vulnerable, underage student to the park and raped him

Police have arrested a 24-year-old teacher’s aide, Alexandra Culhane, and charged her with raping a 15-year-old student, according to PEOPLE.

The charge is especially heinous because Culhane worked at a school for children and teenagers with special needs.

The alleged sex acts occurred outdoors, in a park at the center of town. She is reported to have had oral sex and intercourse with the underage student in April 2016, according to the Albany Times-Union.

Culhane has been charged with third-degree felony rape and a third-degree felony criminal sex act, and faces eight years in prison.

The 24-year-old worked full-time at Northeast Parent and Child Society School, which serves special needs children from grades six to 12. It has not been specified if the victim was one of the students under her care, but Schenectady County, New York, Assistant District Attorney John Carson has theorized that they met while she was on the job.

“The people’s theory of the case is that Culhane and the victim in this matter first became acquainted through her employment,” Carson told PEOPLE. “She was a teacher’s assistant at a school, and we believe she met the victim through her employment where he was enrolled as a student.”

The school became aware of allegations against the teacher’s aide in October 2016 and immediately relieved her of her duties, though she wasn’t officially fired until February of this year. Police have been conducting an investigation for months and were finally ready to make an arrest.

Though it has not been indicated how the school found out about the incident, spokesman Eugene White stated that the school takes the safety of the children under their care very seriously.

“If something happens, we want to uncover it immediately and take corrective action,” he said.”Transparency and accountability are vitally important.”

William T. Gettman, CEO of the company that owns the school, agreed with his colleague, adding “This is not who we are.”

However, the Northeast Parent and Child Society School is no stranger to scandal. Just last week, a teacher, Ryan Johnson, 45, was arrested and accused of beating a student, WRGB has reported.

As for the accused rapist, Alexandra Culhane has been released of her own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on July 3.