A retired middle school drama teacher and theater director has been accused of molesting a student while on school grounds several years ago, according to acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo.

Ronald Wells, 69, in 2016 asked a student at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School to model costumes ahead of a school play, Ruotolo said.

In between costume changes in a private room at the school, Wells then began to touch the student in a sexual manner, according to the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit.

Wells retired at the end of the 2017-18 school year, according to the school district.

He was arrested on Friday and charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.

SVU Supervisor and assistant prosecutor Caroline Lawlor said she will petition the court to detain Wells.

"I understand how difficult it is for a community when something like this happens so close to home," Summit police chief Andrew Bartolotti said in a written statement. "We will continue to work with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate further allegations and encourage any additional victims to please come forward."

Anyone with information about this incident or potential other incidents can contact Summit Police at 908-273-5871.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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