2007-10-26 / Front Page

Father Busted In 'Attempt To Help Assaulted Son'

By Howard Schwach

Michael Hennessey says that he was concerned for the safety of his son, Michael, Jr., 11, who attended PS 225 in Rockaway Beach. He and his wife, Margaret, were on the way to the school, he says, to get a safety transfer from the school so that his son would no longer be called names such as "Casper" and "Whitey," and where he would no longer be bullied by a group of older boys.

Hennessey's trip to the school, however, wound up with his arrest by school security agents and a trip to Queens Central Booking.

Hennessey, 36, is facing a year in jail on charges that he trespassed on school property, resisted arrest, and was disorderly in the school's playground.

Hennessey and his wife told their story to The Wave on Tuesday.

They say that while driving past the schoolyard, looking for a parking space at about 12:40 p.m. on October 19, they saw their son being assaulted by a large group of boys.

This was not the first time, they say, that their son had been assaulted in the school.

"We've had problems in the school since day one, when we brought him from Florida to Rockaway in September," Hennessey said. "He's a big kid, heavy, and they liked to pick on him, call him racial names."

He said that his son was punched in the face twice during the previous week, and that he was advised by a school staff member to get a safety transfer because there was not much the school could do about the assault and the name-calling.

Hennessey said that he and his wife jumped out of the car and ran into the schoolyard. He says that nobody stopped them and nobody challenged them, and that the three adults in the yard were "taking care of the little kids."

Both say that there were no school security agents in the yard at the time. They say that school staff told them later that a young girl had been caught with a knife in the building and that everybody was busy with that.

He didn't touch anybody but his son, Hennessey said. As he was walking with his son, a school security agent he identified as Shimequa Goodman, grabbed him from behind and restrained him.

"I told her that I wanted to know who the kids were that had attacked my son," he said. "I only wanted to see them taken to the proper authorities in the building."

Instead, he says, they took him into the building and arrested him.

Court documents provided by Dist rict Attorney Richard Brown show that Goodman tells a far different story.

Her statement says that the incident occurred at 12:00 a.m., which would have made it midnight, hardly the time when kids would be at recess in the schoolyard.

She says that she observed Hennessey "running after a student, threatening to attack him with his hands as the student ran inside the school."

She added that {she} tried to restrain the defendant from entering the school and continuing the chase and he pushed her away and yelled, "Let me go. I want to get him."

Hennessey and his wife say that none of that is true. He says that he never chased the student who started the fight, nor did he say that he "wanted to get him."

He said that Goodman was not even in the schoolyard when the attack took place and could not know what had happened.

Dina Paul Parks, a spokesperson for the Department of Education, said that Hennessey was arrested because he "charged into the schoolyard where his son and another youth were having a shoving match."

She said that school security agents and other school personnel had already pulled the warring children apart when the father came on the scene and tried to attack the other boy.

"The decision [to arrest Hennessey] was made by school security agents on the scene based on what they saw," she said.

Hennessey was arraigned on October 20 and released on his own recognizance. His next court date is set for November 2.

If convicted of the top count, resisting arrest, he could face up to a year in jail.

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