Staffers of a New York City after-school program repeatedly locked a 6-year-old boy into a tiny, dark hole to punish him — and now his mother is suing over the abuse.
The boy would be lifted “by the crotch” and placed headfirst into the compartment, which was within a closet, “kicking, screaming and crying,” the New York Post reports.
The boy’s mother, Porsche Gaddy, said her son was “emotionally tortured” from the experience at PS 84 Lillian Weber School of the Arts, which is on the city’s Upper West Side.
The child was crammed into the 2 1/2-foot by 1 1/2-foot hole for “acting up,” but he was the only kid of the 20 students in the program subject to the punishment, Gaddy said.
Other children were reportedly scared of being placed in the hole, and they notified adults about the abuse, even after program workers allegedly told kids to keep the “torture closet” a secret, the Post reports.
After two girls told their teachers what was happening, a guidance counselor questioned the boy. School officials later notified Gaddy, who went to police.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Gaddy told the newspaper. “How could somebody I entrusted with the safety of my child be hurting him?”
Gaddy said her son began acting strange this spring, when he would mention that he had a secret but was afraid of getting in trouble if he revealed it.
The boy also would put himself in a closet at home as a way to get comfortable with the abuse, according to the Post.
“He went inside, shut the door and said ‘it’s not so bad when the lights are on,’” Gaddy said. “I never put it together that he was trying to toughen himself up.”
Gaddy’s son is now scared to sleep alone and is afraid of the dark.
On Friday, the Post reported that Gaddy has sued the operator of the after-school program and also is preparing a lawsuit against the city.
The New York City Department of Education shut down the after-school program after the allegations came to light in May.
The operator of the program has received upwards of $115,00 in public funding this year, which is in addition to the $125 per week that Gaddy and other families had to pay for the service.
Four employees of the LACASA after-school program have been fired. At the time the Post first reported about the case, one of the fired after-school program employees was still working as a paraprofessional at a different public school.
[Feature Image: Google Maps/Oct. 2016]