⚫ A New Jersey teacher is charged with sexual assault

⚫ The victim is a member of the school chess club he advises, officials say

⚫ He's also accused of giving the student alcohol

VERONA — A North Jersey teacher who oversaw the school chess club is charged with engaging in sexual activities with a juvenile student in the club.

Matthew Swajkowski, 36, of Verona is a science teacher, chess club advisor, and assistant girls' tennis coach at Verona High School. He is married, according to jail records.

On Friday, he was arrested and charged with sexual assault, child endangerment, and other offenses, Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said.

Matthew Swajkowski (Essex County jail)
Matthew Swajkowski (Essex County jail)

Swajkowski gave a high school student in the chess club alcohol and engaged in sexual conduct with the student, who was either 16 or 17 years old, officials said.

An arrested staff member had been placed on administrative leave as soon as the Verona school district had learned about the accusations, Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe said in a statement. She did not specifically name Swajkowski in the statement, TAPintoVerona/CedarGrove reported.

"The accusations against and subsequent arrest of a staff member are extremely distressing. The district takes any accusation of inappropriate conduct by a staff member seriously, cooperates with law enforcement authorities, and takes personnel action as permitted by law," DiGiuseppe said.

Verona High School (Google Maps)
Verona High School (Google Maps)

The prosecutor's office on Tuesday issued a statement announcing Swajkowski's arrest.

"While the age of consent in New Jersey is 16, it is unlawful for anyone whose 'legal, professional or occupational status' gives them 'supervisory or disciplinary power' over a child who is at least 16 but less than 18 years old to engage in sexual conduct with that child," the prosecutor's office said.

Swajkowski faces three counts of sexual assault by a supervisor, five counts of child endangerment, two counts of child porn possession, and a count of making alcohol available to a minor, according to jail records.

Swajkowski was ordered by Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre at a hearing Wednesday to remain in custody at Essex County jail pending the conclusion of the case, Essex County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Robert Florida said.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 11, 2023.

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