Teachers who sexually assault or endanger the welfare of their students outside of the jurisdiction of New Jersey courts could be charged anyway if a new bill proposed by Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin (R-Ocean) is enacted.
The proposal by McGuckin is in response to a 6-0 decision handed down by the New Jersey Supreme Court last month that determined two school employees at Paramus Catholic High School in Bergen County could not be prosecuted at home for offenses allegedly committed during a school trip to Germany. The defendants in the case, Artur Sopel and Michael Sumulikoski, chaperoned the trip and were indicted on charges of having sexual relations with three students while overseas.
A trial court and a appellate court both ruled the pair could face charges in New Jersey, but the Supreme Court ultimately dismissed the case.
Under McGuckin’s bill, current law would be amended regarding sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child to provide that the defendant’s supervisory status would grant New Jersey jurisdictional authority to prosecute in certain circumstances.
“It is disturbing to think that the person responsible for caring for your child on a class trip would harm them in any way. It’s even more disturbing to think that these chaperones could evade prosecution and ultimately justice,” McGuckin, an attorney, said in a statement. “This bill intends to make prosecution possible in New Jersey to hold sexual predators accountable for their crimes.”