NJ teacher still teaching as district investigates sex assault accusation
PENNINGTON — Faced with the threat of a $10 million lawsuit, the Hopewell Valley Regional School District will investigate additional allegations of sexual assault against district middle school teacher Mark Amantia who is still teaching in the district.
NJ.com reported that according to a notice of tort claim, Timberlane Middle School teacher Mark Amantia in the spring of 2017 locked the girl in a classroom and exposed himself, pushed her up against a wall and tried to pull down her pants. She got away only after stabbing him with a pencil, the litigation claims.
School officials have said that Amantia was never charged with a crime.
This is not the first time that this district has been sued by someone claiming that they were sexually assaulted by an employee while they were a student.
In 2009, a former Hopewell Valley Regional School District student sued the district, saying that he was repeatedly raped as a boy in the 1980s by teacher Matthew Hoffman. In 2015, a jury found Hoffman at fault and awarded the now-adult victim a $300,000 judgment but cleared the school district of wrongdoing. Hoffman, who had left Hopewell Valley for a principal job in neighboring Hillsborough before the Hopewell Valley accusations came to light, is the subject of another ongoing suit by a former student who says she was raped by Hoffman when she was a 4th grade student in 2006.
The accusations against Amantia were reported to the Department of Child Protection and Permanency's Division of Institutional Abuse and the Hopewell Township Police Department, which notified the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, according to Hopewell Valley Superintendent Thomas Smith.
"Several independent, governmental investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by the staff member and he was reinstated to the classroom," Smith said.
The accusations were reported to the Department of Child Protection and Permanency's Division of Institutional Abuse and the Hopewell Township Police Department, which notified the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, according to Smith.
Smith said in a letter posted on the district website that the Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday to discuss the tort claim and the allegations in the tort are "significantly different" than those raised earlier.
The superintendent said that Amantia is still teaching in the district.
Attorney John Rue, who is representing the student and her family, told NJ.com that it is "nonsense" that the district was not aware of all the allegations. Rue did not immediately return a message on Thursday afternoon.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story had the school listed as Timberland Middle School
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ
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