A New Jersey judge has ruled yelling at someone over having to wear a mask during a pandemic should be considered assault.

The ruling from Superior Court Judge Robert C. Wilson came in a lawsuit against a customer who screamed at bank employee when she was told she had to wear a mask inside a Citibank branch in Englewood.

Lilach Kuhn's tirade was among the a series of mask related viral videos that were circulating at the height of the pandemic.

Kuhn's lawyer argued her tirade was protected free speech, and no assault could have occurred because she was separated from the bank employee by a plexiglass barrier. But the judge disagreed, and is allowing the lawsuit to proceed.

On Nov. 20, 2020, Kuhn went into the bank without a mask. When employee Sanaa Rami asked her to wear a face covering, Rami says Kuhn just exploded. At one point, the video shows Kuhn yelling, “I am a scientist! There is no corona!"

Police were called to the scene, but Kuhn was not criminally charged. According to New Jersey's criminal code (2C:12-1(a)), a person can be charged with simple assault without physical contact if you attempt to put another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Simple assault is typically treated as a disorderly person's offense.

Kuhn's lawyer told NJ.com they will likely appeal the judge's ruling, and accused the bank employee of “clearly trying to take advantage of the pandemic and what is going on in the world.”

The bank employee's lawyer told the website while they are not suing for a specific dollar amount, Rami just "wants her day in court."

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NJ arrests 31 accused child predators in "Operation 24/7"

A roundup of 31 men have been accused of sexually exploiting children online, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on July 14 while detailing "Operation 24/7."

The suspects “possessed and or distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse, including in many cases videos of young children being raped by adults,” Grewal said.

Chat apps and gaming platforms remain favorite hunting grounds for child predators and even as the pandemic winds down, many children have continued to spend more time online.

State Police received 39% more tips in just the first 6 months of 2021 than they received in the entire year in 2019. The following are suspects charged in "Operation 24/7."

 

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