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New Jersey boy's claims spark sex crime charges for youth mentor

A 23-year-old New Jersey man is facing serious charges for alleged sex crimes in which he purportedly engaged in proscribed sexual conduct with a minor under the age of 16.

The man has since been arrested and charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a minor and two counts of criminal sexual contact. Because he formerly worked in a church as a youth mentor, authorities are investigating the possibility that there were other claimed sex crimes victims, though there is no such indication to date.

The arrest occurred after when a minor reported the alleged sexual conduct to authorities. According to reports, the accuser said that he had met with the accused man to engage in sexual activities over the course of two months, including in public places.

Reports also indicate that the alleged incidents took place after the man served as a youth mentor with his church.

While these are definitely serious allegations that can dramatically alter the accused man's life, to date the charges are nothing more than allegations. The case appears to rely solely upon the statements of the underage boy. For that reason alone, the accusations of the young boy deserve careful scrutiny.

The accused man is likely very nervous about the charges of sex crimes made against him, especially considering that these charges are likely to affect his reputation, even if they are not true. Thankfully, our criminal justice system has built-in safeguards to prevent false convictions. Not only is the man presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty, but he will have the right to confront the accuser in court. Additionally, the defense team can challenge any physical evidence offered by the prosecution.

The goal of the criminal justice system is to treat all accused individuals fairly and impartially, and a sensitive case such as this one will require vigilance to ensure that this ideal is upheld.

Source: CBS Philly, "Church Youth Mentor Arrested, Charged With Sexual Assault," June 10, 2012

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