Joseph A. Curtatone
For Immediate Release
Thursday, April 17, 2013
(o) 617-625-6600 ext. 2614
Statement of Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and Superintendent of Schools Tony Pierantozzi
This afternoon we were briefed by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz about a deeply disturbing matter that we anticipate will involve our city, as well as the City of Cambridge. An individual who had been entrusted to care for our children has allegedly violated that trust at the highest level.
This individual, identified as Josh Wairi, age 27, a former elementary school teacher in Somerville and most recently in Cambridge, has been accused of videotaping young students in various states of undress. He has also been accused to viewing and sharing child pornography.
The alleged acts shock our conscience. It is difficult to comprehend how a seemingly functional person with no criminal record could victimize children in such a horrible way. The criminal justice system will deal with this individual. What we however must do now is come together as a community.
At this time, we have confirmed that this individual was a student teacher at the John F. Kennedy School during the 2008-2009 school year, and worked in Somerville at The Arthur D. Healy school as a fifth and sixth grade teacher during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years, and as a fifth grade teacher during the 2011-2012 school year.
As representatives of the City of Somerville, we have directed all city agencies and departments to deploy their resources around this issue, and we have reached out to our County, State, and Federal partners for additional resources and aid. The following measures have been put in place:
- We will hold a forum for school parents and guardians tomorrow at East Somerville Community School at 11:30 a.m. in the auditorium. An additional forum will again be held after next week’s April Vacation ends.
- The Cafeteria at the East Somerville Community School will be open from noon until 8 p.m. tomorrow for any parents who have questions or concerns to talk directly to a school official or a counselor.
- The Somerville Personnel Office is collecting a complete accounting of this individual’s employment history in the City of Somerville, which will be shared with parents, guardians and members of the community, and my office will reach out to all agencies and departments, public and private, to offer them assistance and information.
- The Somerville Office of Constituent Services’ 24-hour hotline is open for parents, guardians, teachers, and others concerned who have questions about this situation. The number is 311 from landlines inside Somerville or 617-666-3311 from cell phones or from outside of Somerville.
- Members of the public who have questions for the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding this case should call 617-748-3274.
- Somerville public schools will activate the Somerville Trauma Response Network and the Riverside Trauma Center to provide counseling and other resources for students, teachers, city staff, parents and guardians, which will continue after April Vacation ends, for as long as it is needed
- These counselors will also be available to talk to parents about how to approach this subject with their children.
- Our Parent Information Centers will have interpreters on hand to assist families who speak Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole.
- A letter will be sent to all school faculty, staff, parents and guardians, letting them know about the resources available to them
- Somerville Police detectives are assisting our state and federal partners in the investigation and are available to any parents who have specific concerns
These resources will be available for as long as they are needed.
We understand that there will be many questions and concerns, and we are committed to keeping our community informed as more information becomes available through this investigation. We are working very closely with our partners in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we will release any additional information about this situation as soon as we have it.
There is nothing more important than the welfare of our children. All our energy, all of our efforts, are now with providing any support needed for our community.