NJ school official accused of rape: Another child comes forward
OCEAN GATE — The superintendent of this single-school district is facing a second lawsuit accusing him of molesting an elementary school girl.
Earlier this month, a former student and her mother filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court accusing Frank Vanalesti of dating the mother so that he could sexually abuse her daughter, targeting her because she had autism. The lawsuit says the girl was raped started when she was 9.
In a second lawsuit filed this week in federal court, another student says she was molested by Vanalesti in his office in 2008, when she was 8 years old.
Vanalesti has not been charged with any crime. An attorney for the district denied the accusations in the first lawsuit.
In both cases, the parents said they contacted the police but no charges were ever filed.
Robert Fuggi Jr., the lawyer representing both plaintiffs, said Vanalesti's position as a school administrator may have given him the credibility and cover to avoid charges. In the case highlighted in the first lawsuit, state child welfare investigators did not substantiate the girl's earliest accusations against the school leader, Fuggi said.
"We are hopeful that the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes Unit will reopen any criminal investigation that may have been closed," Fuggi said Tuesday.
The latest lawsuit says the 8-year-old was called into Vanalesti's office after he heard that she had gotten a cut on her chest.
The lawsuit says that while the girl was alone with Vanalesti in his office, he asked her to pull up her shirt so that he could see her cut.
The lawsuit said the girl told him that the "nurse already looked at it." He told her that he also wanted to "check it out," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says the girl lifted up her shirt, exposing her breasts, which made her feel uncomfortable. The lawsuit says that Vanalesti then hugged the child.
The complaint doesn't make any other allegations of sexual misconduct.
Both lawsuits name Vanalesti, using his initials, as well as the school district as defendants, seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
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.