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LGA janitor let go in toe suck case: City

Middle College High School in their location in 2009. Did they move?
Photo by Jeremy Walsh
By Rebecca Henely

A janitor contracted to work at LaGuardia Community College got the boot earlier this year after he tried to pay a high school student more than $100 to suck on her toes, according to documents from the Department of Education’s special commissioner of investigation for the city school district’s office.

Harley Joseph, 29, was hired as a maintenance worker for the Long Island City institution through the commercial cleaning business, Perfect Building Maintenance. Documents from the special commissioner’s office said after allegedly making the bizarre request to a Middle College High School student in February, he was terminated the same day.

“The college acted quickly upon learning of the incident, and Perfect Building Maintenance responded by permanently removing the employee from the campus,” said LaGuardia spokeswoman Susan Lyddon in a statement. “Safeguarding our community is among the highest priorities at LaGuardia Community College.”

LaGuardia is at 31-10 Thomson Ave. in Long Island City and Middle College is at 31-01 Thomson Ave. The victim had been taking some classes at the college.

Neither Perfect Building Maintenance nor Joseph responded to requests for comment.

Joseph had first approached the victim on her way to class in November, asking for her phone number and a lunch date, but the student refused, the commissioner’s office documents said. Joseph then made a pass at the same girl Feb. 10, the documents said.

As she was on the college’s patio, Joseph told her she had “nice feet” and offered her $100, then $200 to suck on her toes, the documents said. When the student said no, Joseph pulled out his wallet, saying he would give her as much money as she wanted, then said they could go to an ATM to get more money, the documents said.

Joseph had grabbed the girl’s wrist trying to get her to go with him, but the student said she was “not a prostitute” and broke free, the documents said. The janitor warned her not to tell anybody, but the student went to another school worker and filed a report with security, resulting in his termination, the documents said.

The office opened an investigation Feb. 27, but Joseph failed to show up for his later appointments with the office, the documents said. He has since been barred from working for the district, the documents said.

LaGuardia recently informed the public that two employees had contracted Legionnaire’s Disease, a bacteria-based disease that causes high fever and pneumonia. Lyddon said the city Department of Health informed the college’s Environmental Health and Safety Office of the two cases that occurred within the past year.

In response, the college took water samples from different buildings and turned off the hot water through July. The water system was also flushed with chlorine this weekend.

“It looks like we are where we need to be,” Lyddon said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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