A New York City marching band leader has been accused of Duct-taping a student's mouth and allegedly told detectives he did it as part of a lesson about slavery, the NYPD said.
Kenyatte Hughes, 39, was arrested on endangerment, assault and weapons charges Tuesday morning, according to the NYPD. He pleaded not guilty to those charges at an arraignment Wednesday. His lawyer would not allow him to comment on the allegations to reporters.
Authorities said they cuffed Hughes after receiving a complaint from a parent, who said the band leader taped a 9-year-old boy's mouth. Parents told police the boy suffered cuts on his lips and swelling from the removal of the tape.
When police questioned Hughes, he allegedly told them he put the Duct tape on the student's mouth as part of a lesson about slavery. He claimed he was also planning to tape his own mouth as well but didn't, police said.
The Department of Education said Hughes volunteers at IS 292 in East New York and is the director of the Soul Tigers Marching Band. He's also a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. NBC 4 New York has done features on the Soul Tigers in the past.
DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye called the charges "deeply troubling."
"Mr. Hughes will no longer be allowed in IS 292 or any of our schools," Kaye said.
His attorney said Hughes worked at the school for 14 years and is not a volunteer. He has no previous criminal record.
Authorities said Hughes was a school lunch helper from 2004 to 2008 and has not been employed by the department since.
Hughes was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court next month. An order of protection was issued Wednesday.