Filipino teacher arrested, accused of sex abuse in Maryland

Lenn Almadin Thornhill
Filipino teacher arrested, accused of sex abuse in Maryland
The 39-year-old teacher from Batangas is accused of sexually abusing a 9-year-old student at William Paca Elementary School in Maryland

NEW JERSEY, USA – A Filipino teacher has been arrested in Maryland  for the alleged sexual abuse of a 9-year-old student.

Erwin Villanueva Magnaye, an elementary school teacher in Landover, Maryland,  is detained at the Prince George’s County Correctional Facility following his arrest on May 5.

Magnaye, 39, from Batangas has been charged with sexual abuse of a 9-year-old-student at William Paca Elementary School.  

According to police, the boy told his mother that Magnaye kissed him in a classroom and had also inappropriately touched him several times beginning September 2014.

The mother told authorities about the allegations in February the same year. Prince George’s County police said in a statement that they spent months investigating Magnaye before arresting him.  

Lawyer Arnedo Valera, one of Migrant Heritage Commission’s (MHC) executive directors, confirmed to Rappler that Magnaye has been suspended from teaching and placed in a temporary work placement site since February 12. MHC is a local organization which helps Filipino migrants. 

Valera told Rappler that  since being told of the allegations 3 months ago, Magnaye expressed deep concern that he was not given a chance to tell his side of the story or to defend himself.  

Hindi siya nagkaroon nang pagkakataon na mag-explain (He didn’t have the chance to explain),” said Valera. 

MHC, he said, is working with Maryland lawyers to make sure Magnaye’s constitutional rights are protected and that he will be given the opportunity to be heard and be given the right to proper legal counsel.  

Ang mahalaga ay lumabas ang katotohanan (What’s important is for the truth to come out).”

Rappler asked Sherrie Johnson, a public information officer for Prince George’s County Public Schools, to clarify Magnaye’s suspension. She replied: “It’s a personnel matter. We are following procedures and he is not with children.”

An officer at the Prince George’s County Police Media Relations Division told Rappler that they have not received any other complaints against Magnaye.  

Magnaye has been a teacher in Maryland for 9 years.  

For over 10 years, Prince George’s County Public Schools have hired hundreds of Filipino teachers.  The recruitment began when the county did not have enough qualified applicants for teaching jobs.  

Valera said many of Magnaye’s colleagues are mobilizing help, including finding him a criminal lawyer.   

For now, MHC is working with a temporary lawyer for Magnaye to file a writ of habeas corpus.  Magnaye’s preliminary court date is scheduled on June 29.  – 

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