Last week’s arrest of Nicole McDonough, an English teacher at West Morris Mendham High School, for allegedly having sexual relations with an 18-year-old student, was just the latest in a series of similar cases in New Jersey.
In the past few years, arrests of teachers in these situations have come fairly frequently in New Jersey.
Here are many of the state’s teachers who have recently faced charges involving sexual relationships with students. All of these teachers have been removed from their classrooms:
◼ At Columbia High School, which serves South Orange and Maplewood, teacher Nicole Dufault, 35, of Caldwell, is accused of sexually assaulting five male students who were all 15 at the time of the incidents.
Dufault faces multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment in connection with incidents that took place in 2013 and 2014. Prosecutors have said the sex acts took place at school and in her car. Dufault is awaiting trial.
◼ In Middlesex County, former English teacher Jaclyn Melillo, 25, admitted sexually assaulting two teenage male students at Sayreville War Memorial High School in 2013 and was sentenced in July to four years in state prison.
◼ In another Mendham case, Donna D. Peirce-Faley, 28, of Pompton Lakes, a former teacher at the Daytop drug-treatment facility, is also accused of having sex with an 18-year-old student.
Peirce-Faley, who has been suspended from her job, is charged with second-degree sexual assault. She is accused of having sex and “sexual conversations” with the adult teen while he was a court-ordered resident of Daytop.
◼ In another Morris County case, Jenna Leahey, 33, a former English teacher and field hockey coach at Parsippany Hills High School, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student.
In an ongoing pretrial hearing, Leahey has been seen in a video-recorded interview admitting to sending pictures and exchanging sexually explicit text messages with a 16-year-old male student. She also said the pair kissed “four or five” times and he would often fondle her, but she also insisted she repeatedly tried to end the sexual contact between the two but felt trapped because she had sent him the pictures and text messages.
◼ At the exclusive Hun School in Princeton, Nolan Johnson, a technical theater teacher, has been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old student.
Police say Johnson, 39, of Morrisville, Pa., engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with the girl on numerous occasions in June and July, while Nolan was the girl’s teacher. The incidents occurred both on and off the school’s campus, authorities said. Johnson is awaiting trial.
◼ Keith McGee of Glen Rock, an art teacher at Snyder High School in Jersey City, was charged in June with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old female student on several occasions. The sex crimes occurred in McGee’s classroom in the school, authorities said in a criminal complaint. McGee, 37, pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual assault on Nov. 12 and is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 9, according to court records.
◼ Abelardo Romero of Montclair, a 28-year-old former math teacher at East Side High School in Paterson, is accused of having a sexual affair with a 17-year-old student at the school. He faces nine counts of sexual assault. Romero is awaiting trial.
◼ Linda Hardan of Prospect Park, a 21-year-old substitute teacher, is accused of having sexual activity with a 16-year-old Manchester Regional High School student and a 14-year-old middle school student in Paterson. She is awaiting trial in Passaic County.
◼ Marc-Andrew Marucci of Parsippany, a former earth-science teacher at Clifton High School, is accused of engaging in illegal sexual behavior with a 17-year-old female student. Marucci, 44, is accused of sexually touching her and making suggestive statements. He is charged with official misconduct, child endangerment and criminal sexual contact. He is awaiting trial.
◼ Scott Van Hoven, 44, a former Parisppany resident and onetime music teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, is accused of having sexual relations with a then-16-year-old female student who participated in the spring musical. Van Hoven, who now lives in Hudson, N.Y., is awaiting trial.
◼ McDonough’s case was one of the more unusual cases because the alleged victim was 18, an adult in the eyes of the law, and the teacher was charged only with official misconduct and not any sex crime. The pending case is in its infancy and the 32-year-old teacher has been placed on leave.
McDonough’s lawyer, Timothy Smith, predicted McDonough will win the case due to the alleged victim’s age. Smith has already won a round in a similar case in Middlesex County. A Superior Court judge dismissed an indictment charging a Piscataway teacher with official misconduct for an alleged sexual relationship with an 18-year-old female student, but the decision is under appeal by the Middlesex prosecutor’s office.