A Manhattan preschool intern has been accused of sexually abusing 13 children over the course of one week. Malthe Thomsen, a 22-year-old college student from Denmark, has been working as an intern at the International Preschools on East 45th Street since last February. On May 30th, an assistant teacher informed the school that she saw him interact with children in a way "that she believed bordered on inappropriate touching." He has been charged with 15 counts of first-degree sexual abuse.
According to the Times, the school’s director, Donna Cohen, said Thomsen was initially "placed under observation” by other teachers who "reported seeing nothing inappropriate." The school “deemed the accusation unfounded” after interviewing other teachers, but none of the accusations were corroborated. Then last week, Thomsen was arrested on sex abused charges; he is accused of taking children’s hands and placing them over his "genitals over clothing" on nine occasions. He also allegedly pressed “the head of a 10th child against defendant’s genitals over clothing."
Prosecutors this week played a tape in court which they claimed showed Thomsen confessing that he "had children touch his private areas and touched their private areas as well." But there is some dispute as to whether Thomsen actually confessed, and what he specifically said. There was enough on the tape for the judge to say there was "probable cause" a felony was committed, but questions remain: “This is another false confession case," said one of Thomsen's lawyer, Jane Fisher-Byrialsen. "You’re telling me you have a video, he says, so I guess it happened but I have no memory of it."
Also adding to the confusion: the teacher who initially accused Thomsen of the abuse was fired in early June, according to the News. "While it is not appropriate to discuss specific personnel decisions, the school can affirmatively state the termination of an assistant teacher there was not because that teacher may have raised allegations against Malthe," spokeswoman Marcia Horowitz said in a statement. Fisher-Byrialsen claims that the accuser had filed various complaints against other teachers, and was fired "because she caused so much drama over the years."
Other parents of former students at the school are also unsure of what to believe: "There is no minute when there is only one teacher in the room,” mom Nancy Brenner explained to the News. "I can’t visualize the logistics of a guy in a very concentrated period rubbing himself against 13 kids. I’m not saying it didn’t [happen], and I wouldn’t want kids to be harmed...But there’s just something about this."