NJ school didn’t call cops about coach rape accusation, prosecutor says
NEW BRUNSWICK — School officials who learned about sexual assault allegations against an employee failed to notify law enforcement right away, prosecutors said Wednesday.
A New Brunswick Middle School assistant basketball coach and paraprofessional has been accused of raping a 13-year-old girl on school grounds.
Eugene Colbert, 31, of South River, was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, second-degree child endangerment, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
Prosecutors said Colbert engaged in the sexual conduct with the student during school hours from November until this month.
A statement from Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said district officials "initially failed to notify law enforcement of the criminal activity as is required by the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials."
According to the memo, revised in January, schools are required to notify law enforcement "whenever any school employee in the course of his or her employment develops reason to believe that a crime involving sexual penetration or criminal sexual contact has been committed on school grounds, or by or against a student during school operating hours or during school-related functions or activities."
Other offenses that require mandatory notification of law enforcement include reports of missing or endangered children, students who have drugs, threats of violence, assaults on school employees and "bias-related" acts.
Schools Superintendent Aubrey Johnson said Wednesday that the district cannot comment on specifics related to this matter because it’s under active investigation," but added that officials are "cooperating fully with authorities and are standing by to support their efforts.
"To be clear, our district is committed to adhering to all laws, policies, and agreements – as evidenced by the fact that the individual who has been charged in this case was arrested following our notification to the appropriate state agency.”
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor declined to provide further information about how authorities were eventually notified.
Prosecutors say Colbert has been fired from the district, which had employed him since 2009. He was earning a pensionable salary of less than $21,400, records show.
He was being held at Middlesex County jail Wednesday awaiting his first court appearance. New Jersey 101.5 did not know on Wednesday whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.