A memo and notice of claim obtained by Newsday indicate a Wyandanch Public Library custodian, Kwaisi McCorvey, has been accused of past sexual misconduct with a minor and that library officials were aware at least 17 months before McCorvey's arrest but let him keep working. NewsdayTV's Macy Egeland reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

A Wyandanch Public Library employee remained on the job at least 17 months after library officials learned he'd been accused of previously having sex with a minor at the library, a confidential memo obtained by Newsday shows.

Suffolk police arrested Kwaisi McCorvey, the library's longtime head custodian, in February on charges of allegedly raping the young woman — then 16 and now 23 — in October 2016 in North Amityville. 

McCorvey, 51, of Farmingdale, has not been charged in connection with the alleged sexual encounters at the library from 2016 to 2018. Those reputed encounters are described in a notice of claim the alleged victim filed against the library July 6 seeking $30 million in damages.

Newsday isn't naming the woman because she is an alleged sexual assault victim. She filed reports with Suffolk police in 2021 about the alleged abuse she said occurred in the library and elsewhere, her attorney, Monte Malik Chandler, told Newsday.

The notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit against a public agency, alleges library officials, including McCorvey's aunt, former board member Nancy Holliday, knew or should have known McCorvey repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl at the facility when she was a minor, but failed to take action.

The claim also alleges Holliday "controlled the library as her private fiefdom" and knew or should have known about McCorvey's alleged actions because of complaints involving McCorvey and child protective services.

Library officials either declined to comment or haven't responded to requests for comment about the notice of claim and confidential memo.

Newsday obtained the memo, written by a former library director, from sources familiar with the internal record.

McCorvey's criminal case attorney, Gregory Kalmar of Melville, declined to comment at his client's most recent court appearance and again last week.

McCorvey, who has worked at the library since 2007, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act in connection with the alleged North Amityville crime.

Library trustees placed McCorvey on paid suspension a week after his arrest. He has continued to collect his $65,494 annual base salary, records obtained under the Freedom of Information Law show.

In 2021, Shadd Jamison, then the library's director, wrote the confidential memo on library letterhead, noting the allegations against McCorvey.

Jamison addressed it to the five board trustees: Ghenya Grant, Jordan Thomas, Katrina Crawford, Norman Sellers and Holliday. 

Crawford succeeded Thomas as board president last month after he stepped down from his trustee seat, citing personal reasons. In addition to Holliday, Grant is no longer on the board. Sellers remains a trustee.

Jamison wrote in the memo that a woman in her early 20s approached him outside the library on Sept. 9, 2021. He said she asked if he was the facility supervisor before speaking for 10 to 15 minutes about alleged sexual encounters with McCorvey in two areas of the building years earlier.

“She mentioned that she was underaged, 16 years old at the time when this started,” Jamison’s memo said. “During the conversation, she was very hysterical and on the verge of crying.”

Jamison also wrote that the woman, who gave him her first name, asked about library surveillance cameras. His memo added that he encouraged her “to write up a statement and give it to me” and advised “that going to the police would be the best bet for her.”

Jamison, now assistant director at Amityville Public Library, declined to comment on the memo when contacted by Newsday. Grant, Crawford and Sellers didn't respond to requests for comment. Holliday refused to answer questions from Newsday.

Jamison, who resigned two months after sending the memo, also wrote that he gave the woman his business card and later called the library’s attorney.

The attorney, David Cohen of Melville, told Jamison there was nothing the library could do without the woman’s contact information and advised him to notify Grant, then board president, the memo says.

Jamison also wrote that he talked to Grant right after he spoke to Cohen and Grant said she would call Cohen the next day. Cohen didn't respond to a request for comment from Newsday. 

Thomas, then a board trustee, said in a recent interview that the attorney indicated at the time there were no more steps for library officials to take.

“As far as I knew from our lawyer at the time, there was nothing further that we could do,” Thomas said.

But an email Newsday obtained from sources with knowledge of the matter shows Holliday quickly criticized the memo.

Holliday, 69, was a library trustee for more than 20 years before losing a 2022 reelection bid, and is now vice president of Wyandanch's school board.

On Sept. 10, 2021, Holliday wrote in an email to Jamison and fellow board members that the allegations against McCorvey were “false in their entirety.”

Holliday condemned the library director and said McCorvey “may seek his legal rights" against the library and Jamison. Holliday also wrote in part that it wasn't Jamison's job to encourage "strangers to make allegations" that violate employee rights and the library's "public interests."

Holliday's email added it appeared to be "an invitation on the library's part to injure Mr. McCorvey" when Jamison gave his business card to the young woman.

The notice of claim names the library, McCorvey, former trustees Holliday, Grant and Thomas, and current trustees Sellers, Crawford and Kisha Carter as defendants. Carter, who became a trustee the year after Jamison's memo, declined to comment.

Chandler, who also did legal work for the library in 2014 following a state audit, released a statement to Newsday saying the alleged sexual assaults “left an indelible scar” on his client.

“The assailant and those who chose to ignore the glaring and brazen misconduct should be brought to justice and divested of any authority and trust that … Wyandanch has vested in them,” the attorney added. 

The notice of claim contends McCorvey, in incidents from October 2016 to December 2018, sexually assaulted the alleged victim in the library when she was a minor. 

It alleges some molestation occurred in McCorvey's office, and in the basement, computer room and elevator room — places the claim alleges McCorvey also had sex with "numerous" women.

The claim also says the alleged victim reported being molested by McCorvey to Jamison, which Jamison "memorialized" in the memo, but “no investigation, training, discipline or corrective actions were implemented" after that.

In seeking damages, the claim alleges gross negligent supervision and retention of McCorvey and breach of duty of care by the library and its trustees. 

Former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon said in an interview that she filed a report with Suffolk's Child Protective Services on the alleged victim's behalf around 2016, when she was her school guidance counselor at Western Suffolk BOCES.

Gordon said no one from the agency followed up with her. She said detectives interviewed her about her report in 2021 at Suffolk's First Precinct after the alleged sexual assault victim went to police with allegations against McCorvey.

Gordon declined to detail the contents of her report to Child Protective Services, citing the ongoing criminal case. 

Chandler said a relative of his client also filed a report with Child Protective Services in 2016 or 2017 on her behalf.

County spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said state law prohibits Child Protective Services from releasing information about any potential allegations. 

McCorvey and Holliday have been singled out together in the past.

In 2014, a state audit of the library concluded Holliday took apparent liberties with records to the benefit of McCorvey, Newsday reported then. 

The audit found the library board didn't provide oversight adequate to prevent "fraud, waste and abuse" and in part criticized Holliday, then president, for changing time clock records 109 times for McCorvey.

Auditors described the action as malfeasance by a public official and referred the matter to Suffolk prosecutors. No criminal charges resulted.

Library records show McCorvey has been among the library's highest-paid employees for years, earning as much as $158,298 annually with overtime.

Court records show before McCorvey started his job, he had a felony conviction for possessing stolen property along with a felony drug conviction. He has at least nine misdemeanor convictions, including several from after he began his library job, documents show.

Library attorney Shawn Cullinane referred questions about whether the library does criminal background checks for prospective employees or has a policy on whether employees can face discipline or firing after a conviction to acting library director Fred Lopez.

Lopez said in a statement that he couldn't find "any mention of this in the manuals at this time." He didn't provide further clarification.

Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, said it is up to each library to decide which types of background or other checks officials perform during the hiring process.

He said at least seven of Suffolk's 56 libraries do criminal background checks — with at least four more doing checks depending on the position that's being filled.

It's unclear if the library will seek to fire McCorvey.

A resident asked about his job status at a July 24 board meeting, before Cullinane, the library's lawyer, responded by saying that McCorvey's criminal case still is pending. 

"He still has certain rights as a person, as an employee, and it's our responsibility to make sure that those rights are not violated or we'd get ourselves in more litigation," the attorney said.

A Wyandanch Public Library employee remained on the job at least 17 months after library officials learned he'd been accused of previously having sex with a minor at the library, a confidential memo obtained by Newsday shows.

Suffolk police arrested Kwaisi McCorvey, the library's longtime head custodian, in February on charges of allegedly raping the young woman — then 16 and now 23 — in October 2016 in North Amityville. 

McCorvey, 51, of Farmingdale, has not been charged in connection with the alleged sexual encounters at the library from 2016 to 2018. Those reputed encounters are described in a notice of claim the alleged victim filed against the library July 6 seeking $30 million in damages.

Newsday isn't naming the woman because she is an alleged sexual assault victim. She filed reports with Suffolk police in 2021 about the alleged abuse she said occurred in the library and elsewhere, her attorney, Monte Malik Chandler, told Newsday.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A confidential memo shows Wyandanch library officials learned by 2021 of allegations custodian Kwaisi McCorvey previously had sex with a minor at work.
  • A $30 million claim against the library alleges officials did nothing after allegations arose, only suspending McCorvey with pay after his 2023 arrest on charges that included rape of a minor.
  • Court records show McCorvey had two felony convictions before his 2007 library hire and misdemeanor convictions before and after he began his job.

The notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit against a public agency, alleges library officials, including McCorvey's aunt, former board member Nancy Holliday, knew or should have known McCorvey repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl at the facility when she was a minor, but failed to take action.

The claim also alleges Holliday "controlled the library as her private fiefdom" and knew or should have known about McCorvey's alleged actions because of complaints involving McCorvey and child protective services.

Library officials either declined to comment or haven't responded to requests for comment about the notice of claim and confidential memo.

Newsday obtained the memo, written by a former library director, from sources familiar with the internal record.

McCorvey's criminal case attorney, Gregory Kalmar of Melville, declined to comment at his client's most recent court appearance and again last week.

McCorvey, who has worked at the library since 2007, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act in connection with the alleged North Amityville crime.

Library trustees placed McCorvey on paid suspension a week after his arrest. He has continued to collect his $65,494 annual base salary, records obtained under the Freedom of Information Law show.

Confidential memo to the board

In 2021, Shadd Jamison, then the library's director, wrote the confidential memo on library letterhead, noting the allegations against McCorvey.

Jamison addressed it to the five board trustees: Ghenya Grant, Jordan Thomas, Katrina Crawford, Norman Sellers and Holliday. 

Then-library director Shadd Jamison wrote a confidential memo in 2021...

Then-library director Shadd Jamison wrote a confidential memo in 2021 outlining the allegations. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Crawford succeeded Thomas as board president last month after he stepped down from his trustee seat, citing personal reasons. In addition to Holliday, Grant is no longer on the board. Sellers remains a trustee.

Jamison wrote in the memo that a woman in her early 20s approached him outside the library on Sept. 9, 2021. He said she asked if he was the facility supervisor before speaking for 10 to 15 minutes about alleged sexual encounters with McCorvey in two areas of the building years earlier.

“She mentioned that she was underaged, 16 years old at the time when this started,” Jamison’s memo said. “During the conversation, she was very hysterical and on the verge of crying.”

Jamison also wrote that the woman, who gave him her first name, asked about library surveillance cameras. His memo added that he encouraged her “to write up a statement and give it to me” and advised “that going to the police would be the best bet for her.”

Jamison, now assistant director at Amityville Public Library, declined to comment on the memo when contacted by Newsday. Grant, Crawford and Sellers didn't respond to requests for comment. Holliday refused to answer questions from Newsday.

Library’s ‘public interests’

Jamison, who resigned two months after sending the memo, also wrote that he gave the woman his business card and later called the library’s attorney.

The attorney, David Cohen of Melville, told Jamison there was nothing the library could do without the woman’s contact information and advised him to notify Grant, then board president, the memo says.

Jamison also wrote that he talked to Grant right after he spoke to Cohen and Grant said she would call Cohen the next day. Cohen didn't respond to a request for comment from Newsday. 

Thomas, then a board trustee, said in a recent interview that the attorney indicated at the time there were no more steps for library officials to take.

“As far as I knew from our lawyer at the time, there was nothing further that we could do,” Thomas said.

But an email Newsday obtained from sources with knowledge of the matter shows Holliday quickly criticized the memo.

Holliday, 69, was a library trustee for more than 20 years before losing a 2022 reelection bid, and is now vice president of Wyandanch's school board.

Former Wyandanch Public Library trustee Nancy Holliday, the aunt of...

Former Wyandanch Public Library trustee Nancy Holliday, the aunt of library custodian Kwaisi McCorvey, shown in 2020.

Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

On Sept. 10, 2021, Holliday wrote in an email to Jamison and fellow board members that the allegations against McCorvey were “false in their entirety.”

Holliday condemned the library director and said McCorvey “may seek his legal rights" against the library and Jamison. Holliday also wrote in part that it wasn't Jamison's job to encourage "strangers to make allegations" that violate employee rights and the library's "public interests."

Holliday's email added it appeared to be "an invitation on the library's part to injure Mr. McCorvey" when Jamison gave his business card to the young woman.

‘An indelible scar’

The notice of claim names the library, McCorvey, former trustees Holliday, Grant and Thomas, and current trustees Sellers, Crawford and Kisha Carter as defendants. Carter, who became a trustee the year after Jamison's memo, declined to comment.

Chandler, who also did legal work for the library in 2014 following a state audit, released a statement to Newsday saying the alleged sexual assaults “left an indelible scar” on his client.

“The assailant and those who chose to ignore the glaring and brazen misconduct should be brought to justice and divested of any authority and trust that … Wyandanch has vested in them,” the attorney added. 

The notice of claim contends McCorvey, in incidents from October 2016 to December 2018, sexually assaulted the alleged victim in the library when she was a minor. 

It alleges some molestation occurred in McCorvey's office, and in the basement, computer room and elevator room — places the claim alleges McCorvey also had sex with "numerous" women.

The notice of claim alleges that molestation took place in...

The notice of claim alleges that molestation took place in several areas of the Wyandanch Public Library during a two-year span. Credit: Tom Lambui

The claim also says the alleged victim reported being molested by McCorvey to Jamison, which Jamison "memorialized" in the memo, but “no investigation, training, discipline or corrective actions were implemented" after that.

In seeking damages, the claim alleges gross negligent supervision and retention of McCorvey and breach of duty of care by the library and its trustees. 

Former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon said in an interview that she filed a report with Suffolk's Child Protective Services on the alleged victim's behalf around 2016, when she was her school guidance counselor at Western Suffolk BOCES.

Gordon said no one from the agency followed up with her. She said detectives interviewed her about her report in 2021 at Suffolk's First Precinct after the alleged sexual assault victim went to police with allegations against McCorvey.

Gordon declined to detail the contents of her report to Child Protective Services, citing the ongoing criminal case. 

Chandler said a relative of his client also filed a report with Child Protective Services in 2016 or 2017 on her behalf.

County spokeswoman Marykate Guilfoyle said state law prohibits Child Protective Services from releasing information about any potential allegations. 

McCorvey has 'certain rights as a person'

McCorvey and Holliday have been singled out together in the past.

In 2014, a state audit of the library concluded Holliday took apparent liberties with records to the benefit of McCorvey, Newsday reported then. 

The audit found the library board didn't provide oversight adequate to prevent "fraud, waste and abuse" and in part criticized Holliday, then president, for changing time clock records 109 times for McCorvey.

Auditors described the action as malfeasance by a public official and referred the matter to Suffolk prosecutors. No criminal charges resulted.

Library records show McCorvey has been among the library's highest-paid employees for years, earning as much as $158,298 annually with overtime.

Court records show before McCorvey started his job, he had a felony conviction for possessing stolen property along with a felony drug conviction. He has at least nine misdemeanor convictions, including several from after he began his library job, documents show.

Library attorney Shawn Cullinane referred questions about whether the library does criminal background checks for prospective employees or has a policy on whether employees can face discipline or firing after a conviction to acting library director Fred Lopez.

Lopez said in a statement that he couldn't find "any mention of this in the manuals at this time." He didn't provide further clarification.

Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, said it is up to each library to decide which types of background or other checks officials perform during the hiring process.

He said at least seven of Suffolk's 56 libraries do criminal background checks — with at least four more doing checks depending on the position that's being filled.

It's unclear if the library will seek to fire McCorvey.

A resident asked about his job status at a July 24 board meeting, before Cullinane, the library's lawyer, responded by saying that McCorvey's criminal case still is pending. 

"He still has certain rights as a person, as an employee, and it's our responsibility to make sure that those rights are not violated or we'd get ourselves in more litigation," the attorney said.

TIMELINE

  • 2007: Wyandanch Public Library hires Kwaisi McCorvey as a custodian.
  • 2014: State comptroller’s audit finds library trustee Nancy Holliday altered payroll records for McCorvey, her nephew.
  • 2021: A woman reports to library's director in September that in 2016 McCorvey repeatedly had sex with her in the library when she was a minor.
  • 2021: The same woman makes a sworn statement to Suffolk police in December about alleged sexual abuse by McCorvey.
  • 2023: Police arrest McCorvey in February on charges of third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act for alleged sexual abuse of the woman in North Amityville when she was a minor.
  • 2023: Library board members suspend McCorvey with pay a week after his arrest.
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