NJ science teacher charged with molesting girl in classroom closet
MONROE (Gloucester) — A celebrated middle school science teacher has been charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in his classroom.
Paul VanHouten surrendered to police Friday on charges of official misconduct, sexual assault and child endangerment.
The charges comes after a five-month investigation. School officials in February suspended VanHouten with pay from his job at Williamstown Middle School. The girl's mother reported the allegations to police.
Prosecutors said VanHouten followed the girl into the storage closet of his classroom where he groped her breasts over her clothes.
He then threatened to fail her if she told anyone what had happened, prosecutors said.
VanHouten has been a science teacher in the district since 1989. In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles named him an All-Pro Teacher.
In 2018, township police charged him with creating a false public alarm days after the Parkland, Florida school shooting for posting on Facebook that the school board had not addressed rumors about a gun violence threat in the district. The police complaint said that the post was an "unvetted rumor" that he "should have known would cause public alarm."
VanHouten received support from the community and the charge was eventually dropped after prosecutors acknowledged that had not committed a crime.
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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.