It’s an unfortunate truth that certain types of criminal charges provoke such emotional responses among community members, they tend to associate any number of other criminal activities with them. Morris County police and prosecutors, unfortunately, tend to do little if anything to downplay the ensuing frenzy.
Take the recent case of a part-time high school music teacher at a local Catholic school. Prior to obtaining employment, the man passed a fingerprint and criminal background check with no problems. Further, he completed a training program on sexual abuse prevention. The diocese also required signature to their code of conduct, which he provided.
Then, early this month, police were called with reports of a man masturbating in a car near a bus stop. The car was gone when police showed up, but an alleged witness gave police a license plate number. That number apparently connected police with the music teacher, who was charged with multiple counts of lewdness.
Rather than try to keep the public focused on the defendant’s right to a presumption of innocence, the local police captain made an odd statement to the press. He claimed that the defendant had done this several times before, but offered no evidence to support such allegations.
Defendants in Morris County charged with sex crimes are all too often lumped together into not only the “guilty” category, but into a category of severity which may not match the actual crimes alleged. Next, we’ll take a look at this type of charge — lewdness — and how it is classified under New Jersey law.