No criminal charge for NJ educator who had sex with 16-year-old student
An educator who admitted having sex with a 16-year-old student will not face criminal charges, but he has lost his teaching credentials.
State regulators in June revoked the substitute-teaching certificate of Edwin C. Cruz, who had a late-night tryst with the girl in June 2017.
The girl had been a student in a Morris County high school physical education class that Edwin had once been assigned to cover as a substitute.
Cruz admitted in proceedings before the State Board of Examiners, the body that regulates teaching credentials, that he picked up the girl outside her home shortly before 1 a.m. on June 1, 2017, and took her to his house.
After having intercourse with the girl, he dove her back home.
Cruz claimed that the girl had told him that she was 18.
In New Jersey, the legal age of consent is 16 unless the adult is a relative or in a position of authority over the youngster, such as a coach or teacher. It is not clear why authorities did not pursue criminal charges in this case.
In his own defense, Cruz expressed remorse and pointed out that what he did was not technically illegal.
“He admitted that he was wrong morally and ethically, given the girl’s age and that he would alway be haunted by the incident in the future,” the State Board of Examiners’ decision says. “He noted that the legal age of consent in New Jersey was 16, ‘so legally I was not wrong,’ but emphasized that he was not proud of his actions and had let others and himself down.”
Cruz said that he never had any intent to have a relationship with the girl.
He said that he was a decent man, an active member of his church and community, but who made a poor judgment call.
“This instance is not who I am but a mistake I have made and that I am very remorseful of,” the board quoted him as saying.
Although Cruz asked that he keep his certificate, the board noted that “Cruz’s conduct in having sexual contact with a student clearly indicated a serious lapse in judgment.”
The sexual incident was investigated that summer by the Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit of the Department of Children and Families, which substantiated in July 2017 the allegation of sexual abuse
The State Board of Examiners was alerted to the case by the Morris County Office of Education in November 2018.
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.