Education International
Education International

Denmark and USA: Malthe Thomsen dismissed of all charges

published 14 November 2014 updated 19 November 2014

The nearly five-month investigation, reported on the EI website yesterday, into claims that a student teacher had inappropriately touched youngsters at a preschool in Manhattan has ended with the dismissal of all criminal charges, according to the New York times today.

The student teacher, Malthe Thomsen, broke into sobs as an assistant district attorney asked Justice Gregory Carro to dismiss the charges. “We have determined that we cannot prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” the prosecutor, Rachel Ferrari, said.

Mr. Thomsen, 22, of Copenhagen, was arrested on sexual abuse charges on June 27 after a teacher at the International Preschools on East 45th Street reported him to the police. During a seven-hour interrogation, he made statements to the detectives that prosecutors have characterized as a confession, but that he maintains were false and coerced.

Ms. Ferrari told Justice Carro her office “found no evidence that the defendant’s statements were improperly obtained or that they were false.” But she said investigators also had failed to unearth any other evidence against Mr. Thomsen, and his words alone were not enough to convict him.

As he left State Supreme Court in Manhattan with his parents, Mr. Thomsen said the police had tricked him into admitting crimes he had never committed and could not recall. “It’s all untrue,” he said.

The case had been losing steam for months, according to statements made in court by prosecutors. Social workers interviewed 13 children from the school, but could find only one who had a recollection of being touched by Mr. Thomsen in a way that could be considered inappropriate. Two other teachers in the classroom said they had seen nothing untoward.

Prosecutors also had doubts about whether Mariangela Kefalas, the teacher who reported Mr. Thomsen to the police, would be perceived as a reliable witness by a jury, a law enforcement official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The videos that Ms. Kefalas shot of Mr. Thomsen in the classroom did not show criminal conduct.

Before his arrest on June 27, Mr. Thomsen had been a well-liked intern at the International Preschools, where he had started working with a class of 4- and 5-year-olds in February.

After Mr. Thomsen’s arrest, his parents mortgaged their house in Denmark to pay his bail, and they have accumulated $200,000 in legal fees. Mr. Thomsen has been tethered to New York City, unable to return to his studies until prosecutors decided whether to present the case to a grand jury. “It’s been five months out of my life I will never get back,” he said.

After court, Mr. Thomsen said he planned to finish his degree in Copenhagen and teach at a preschool. “That’s my passion,” he said. “I won’t let one person and a crazy justice system ruin that.”

BUPL, the Danish preschool teachers’ union of which Mr Thomsen is a member, welcomed the dismissal of all charges but pointed out that, as outlined below, Mr Thomsen and his family have been left with huge legal and other bills incurred in providing him with a defence.

121,571 euros is the current bill for legal fees, hiring of private investigators and evidence. This does not cover rent and living expenses nor flights and lost wages in the five months Malthe Thomsen and his parents have been staying in New York. The family has mortgaged their house to cover the costs.