WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A high-ranking Providence schools administrator with a history of “toe popping” students was arrested this week and accused of forcibly giving a foot massage to an underage male at a gym in Warwick.
Court records show Warwick police arrested Providence network superintendent of secondary schools Olayinka Alege, 40, on Monday after a man and his son contacted law enforcement about an alleged assault that happened on April 20.
According to police, a man — later identified as Alege — approached the underage male at a Warwick gym and asked him about his workout shoes.
“Before the juvenile male was able to answer, Alege picked up the juvenile male’s right foot and began to take his shoe off without asking permission,” police wrote in a sworn affidavit. “Alege then proceeded to grab the heel of the juvenile male’s foot as he attempted to pull his foot away and pulled off the juvenile male’s sock. Alege later dropped the sock and began to massage the juvenile male’s foot for approximately thirty to forty seconds. The juvenile male tried to pull his foot away, but the male would not let his foot go.”
When the underage male was able to remove his foot from Alege’s grasp, police reported he moved away and continued to work out, trying to avoid interacting with the adult.
“[The] only other interaction with the Alege was while [he] was working out on a machine, Alege smiled and winked at [him],” police wrote in a report.
Police, who said there was video surveillance that supported the allegations, charged Alege with simple assault or battery, a misdemeanor. Alege did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, but police records show police interviewed him after the alleged assault.
According to police records, Alege said he was interested in the person’s shoes “because they were ‘flats.’ Alege also said he couldn’t remember if it was him or the underage male that removed the shoe, according to police.
“Alege denied rubbing the victim’s bare foot but did acknowledge touching it,” police wrote. “Alege estimated it was just a second that he actually touched the victim’s bare foot and denies rubbing it for a prolonged period.”
This isn’t the first time Alege has been accused of touching student-age children’s feet. Before he was hired by Providence Superintendent Harrison Peters in 2020, Alege spent 15 years in the Hillsborough County Public School system in Florida.
During that time, Alege served as an assistant principal at a Tampa high school where students complained of a strange form of punishment that he employed.
The Sun Sentinal reported in 2009: “Five boys told deputies that King High assistant principal Olayinka Alege asked them on numerous occasions to take off a shoe and sock behind closed doors, and allow him to ‘pop’ their toes. They said it didn’t hurt, but they didn’t like it, either.”
Police said they asked Alege about the foot touching in Florida.
“Alege felt the incidents had nothing to do with one another,” police wrote in a report. “Alege had no further information to provide during the interview and declined to provide a written statement.”
The Providence school district has been under state control since 2019, and Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green told Target 12 Wednesday that she had asked Alege for his resignation. Moments after the interview, Alege sent an email offering his resignation, according to a spokesperson.
“My stomach hurts,” Infante-Green said. “I’m disgusted by the whole thing.”
After his arrest, questions began to swirl around how someone with Alege’s background would be hired to the district to begin with. Peters, who came from the same school district as Alege in Florida, told Target 12 the toe-popping incident there predated him. He also underscored that no legal or disciplinary action was ever taken against Alege in the wake of those allegations.
“I’ve worked incredibly hard to make trust the center of everything we do and I just feel strongly that our trust has been betrayed,” Peters said.
Infante-Green, who claims she did not know about Alege’s history in Florida, said the district could have made a better choice when it came to hiring him. The commissioner said she wasn’t aware of any other allegation made against Alege in Providence, but she added the district is conducting its own investigation.
“At the end of the day, what we don’t want is him in the district,” she said. “This just doesn’t work for me, so whatever we need to do, we will do.”
Video Now: Full interview with Infante-Green and Peters