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New Jersey teacher charged with inappropriately touching student in public hallway

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Matthew Enuco

A Marlboro Memorial Middle School teacher who was accused of inappropriately touching a student in a school hallway was charged Friday with a petty disorderly persons offense, police said.

Jenna Sciabica was charged with one count of harassment-offensive touching after a month-long investigation by Marlboro police with the assistance of the school district, officials said.

The investigation began Mar. 13 after district administrators notified police about an incident that happened in public view in a hallway, according to a press release from police. Another staff member witnessed and reported the incident to administrators, officials said.

Sciabica was accused of inappropriately touching the student over the clothes, and was immediately placed on leave by the district, school officials told police.

“Jenna intends to plead not guilty and vigorously defend herself in court,” her attorney Mitchell Ansell said in a statement. “We are confident that once a judge hears all the facts in this case, Jenna will be completely exonerated and her good name, character and reputation be restored.”

Ansell said Sciabica has never been accused of any prior allegations and has an “exemplary record.” He also said Sciabica has worked in education for 15 years and has known the alleged victim for three years.

“There was absolutely nothing illegal, improper or immoral about the interaction between Jenna and this student on March 13, 2024,” Ansell added. “Quite frankly, it’s outrageous and defamatory for Jenna to have been accused of committing a crime.”

According to police, the investigation included a review of surveillance camera footage, interviews and written statements. The Marlboro Police Department said they consulted the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office before charging Sciabica.

Allegations about a teacher inappropriately touching a middle-school student first surfaced earlier this week after the parents of a student shared details about what happened at a Marlboro board of education meeting Tuesday.

“As soon as we became aware of the situation, action was taken, and the staff member in question was immediately removed from her position,” Superintendent Michael Ballone wrote in a letter to district families Wednesday.

The family of the alleged victim’s attorney, Nima Ameri, disputed the district’s assertion in the letter earlier this week that immediate action was taken, stating the district did not act quickly enough to protect the student.

Ameri said Saturday morning another family has reached out to him about other incidents involving Sciabica and challenged the thoroughness of the investigation.

“We think this was a sloppy rushed job to save face,” Ameri said.

The Marlboro school district endured a tumultuous week as the district closed Thursday and suffered a delayed opening Friday after bomb threats were emailed to a staff member.

Police investigated the threats alleging at least two bombs were located at the middle school and district administrative offices. Municipal buildings were also temporarily closed as a result of the threats Thursday.

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