WANAQUE — A gym and health teacher from North Jersey has been kicked out of the profession three years after a woman and a cop said they caught him masturbating in public.

And even though state officials gave him credit for keeping his "clearly defined genitals" in his pants, that wasn't enough to spare him.

John P. McCabe was arrested in 2015 on charges of lewdness after a borough police officer spotted him stroking his genitals under his clothes in a CVS parking lot. A month earlier, a woman had reported seeing a man masturbating under his clothes in the parking lot of a different store.

The lewdness charges were eventually dismissed in 2017 after McCabe was admitted into the court’s conditional dismissal program. McCabe argued that he should not lose his ability to teach because he never pleaded guilty or was convicted, although state officials pointed out that he never refuted that witnesses.

Even though an administrative law judge initially ruled that he should face suspension, the State Board of Examiners decided to revoke his teaching credentials anyway.

A woman said she saw a man masturbating in a parking lot on July 30, 2015. A few days later, she reported the incident to police, who obtained surveillance footage and identified the car the man was driving.

On Aug. 12, an officer said he saw McCabe standing in front of the CVS “with his hand in his pants manipulating his penis,” according to a summary provided in the State Board of Examiners’ order this month.

Administrative Judge Gail M. Cookson, however, tried to cut McCabe a break because she said that “these incidents were not part of a larger or more persistent pattern of conduct, the conduct did not occur in school or on school property, or even during the school year, and no school children were present. Moreover, there was no evidence that [McCabe] exposed himself or that non-adults would have inferred he was masturbating.”

The Attorney General’s Office filed an “exception” to the judge’s initial decision, explaining that the state had revoked credentials of another teacher who had been caught masturbating in a clothing store.

The State Board of Examiners, the regulatory body that polices teaching credentials, ultimately decided in November to revoke McCabe’s certificates.

“Even though McCabe did not publicly expose himself, his conduct indicates a serious lapse in judgment,” according to the board’s order, which adds that teachers are held to higher standard of “self-restraint” and “controlled behavior” than many other professions.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.