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New Jersey "Teacher of the Year" accused of sex crimes

A New Jersey teacher, formerly the winner of the title 'Teacher of the Year' for 2011, has been charged for alleged sex crimes which supposedly happened between her and a high school student that was a sophomore in her honors class. She has since been charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. She has been released on bail for her alleged sex crimes on the condition that she has no contact with the various people involved with the case and has been suspended indefinitely from the school where she works.

The charges initially came to light when police suspected that the sexual encounters took place. They believe that the alleged sexual relationship happened during the summer, from mid-June through the end of August. The assistant prosecutor from the county's special victims unit refused to say where these purported trysts were located or how the police learned of these supposed encounters.

As this woman goes to court, she will need to look carefully at the evidence that the prosecutor has to determine the claimed basis for the charges. At the moment, it appears that the prosecution is declining to release many details about the alleged relationship. As the case moves forward through the criminal justice system, the accused teacher has the right to confront witnesses against her in court and to challenge any physical evidence offered in support of the allegations.

Already, the teacher has reported getting an outpouring of support from her local New Jersey community. However, as she is probably already aware, these charges can be disastrous, especially for a teacher. Having pleaded not guilty to the sex crimes of which she has been accused, she retains the right to the full presumption of innocence unless the accusations are proved in court. As she continues fighting her case, it is hoped that the truth of the matter will be cleared up and that the teacher will have every opportunity to both protect her legal rights and fight for a truly just result.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "West Orange teacher from Montclair pleads not guilty to sex assault charges," Dan Prochilo, Sept. 12, 2012

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