A middle school janitor is accused of kidnapping and raping a 17-year-old girl. Authorities said Hernan Zapata, age 51, assaulted the former student at the Brooklyn, New York, school on Saturday afternoon.
According to authorities, Zapata was on duty at the time of the assault. The teen reportedly went to the school to meet a friend. When she approached the building, the janitor opened the door and led her to an unoccupied room.
Authorities said Zapata locked the door to prevent the teen from leaving. He then proceeded to physically and sexually assault the former student.
The teen contacted authorities immediately following the attack. Police responded to the school and arrested the janitor for kidnapping and rape.
A representative with the Department of Education said Zapata was not employed by the school district. In an official statement, the representative said the janitor was an employee of a cleaning company, which provided services to the school.
Officials said Zapata was terminated from his position following the assault.
As reported by New York Daily News, the janitor worked at the middle school for nearly 20 years. Authorities said Zapata has no prior criminal record or history of misconduct.
Michelle Zapata, age 21, believes her father was wrongly accused:
“This is the craziest thing that has happened to us. There’s no way he would do this. He’s not capable of something like this. He comes straight home after working, when he’s not working, he’s with us.”
According to Michelle, her father is well-liked and respected. She said he had a good rapport with the students and would never hurt anyone:
“Everyone knows him, go to the school, everyone will know him. They will all say good things… I don’t know why anyone would say that. Whoever said that is going to hell.”
Authorities are still in the process of investigating the assault. It is unclear who the teen planned to meet and why she agreed to enter the building while the school was closed.
New York Post reports Hernan Zapata was arrested and charged with assault, rape, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, and unlawful imprisonment.
Although the janitor has not been convicted of raping and kidnapping the teen, the school officials said he will no longer be allowed to work at any school within in the district.
Authorities have not released the name of the school or the teen who reported the kidnapping and rape.
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