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Cheryl Reyna, 32, of 60-17 60th Place, a Spanish teacher at Martin Luther High School, was charged with committing a criminal sexual act, sexual misconduct, endangering the welfare of a child and sexual abuse, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
Reyna faces up to four years in prison if convicted, Brown said.
Reyna, who is married and has taught at the Lutheran parochial school on Maspeth Avenue since 1997, was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Lenore Bail, who set bail at $5,000 and a return date of March 29.
The teacher has been suspended from the school since Monday pending an investigation, said Kelli Westfal, director of communications at Martin Luther High.
"Our first concern is for the welfare and safety of our students," Westfal said, reading from a prepared statement. "We are cooperating fully with the authorities and cannot divulge any further information while the investigation is ongoing. Our prayers for healing go out to those involved."
The alleged victim is in 12th grade, and her family is friendly with Reyna, a law enforcement official said. She has been Reyna's student for the past four years.
According to the criminal complaint, Reyna is charged with fondling the student's breasts and performing oral sex on her on at least nine times between Aug. 2 and Oct. 7, 2003. The incidents occurred at both Reyna's home on 60th Place and the student's home somewhere in Queens, the complaint said.
Westfal said the 16-year-old is still enrolled at the school of more than 400 students, although she was absent Tuesday, according to her classmates.
Reyna's suspension was the talk of the day at school Tuesday, according to a sophomore who did not want to disclose her full name out of fear of being called as a witness in the case.
"It was a big topic of discussion. No matter where you were, people were talking about it," said the sophomore. "A lot of people were happy that they weren't gonna have a teacher - that they were going to have a substitute."
She described Reyna as a nice teacher who liked to joke around with her students but with a reputation for playing favorites in the classroom. It was common knowledge that Reyna and the student spent a lot of time together both in and out of school, she said.
Senior Matthew Kohler took Spanish under Reyna last year, and he also spoke favorably of her.
"She seemed like a good teacher," Kohler said. "She seemed fun."
Kohler had Spanish during first period, and he said the 16-year-old girl would commonly sit in on class even though she was not enrolled. He said he would regularly see the student and teacher together throughout the day and once overheard them talking about having dinner.
"It was obvious they were friends," Kohler said. "It was obvious that they were friends outside of school."
Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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