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Assembly advances Schepisi bill expanding prosecution for sexual assault crimes against minors

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

River Vale NJ,  The Assembly voted today to allow the prosecution of chaperones who sexually assault minors in their care when the crimes are committed outside of New Jersey. The legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi.

Two Paramus Catholic High School teachers were indicted for multiple acts of sexual misconduct involving three 17-year-old female students on a school-sponsored trip to Germany in 2011. A trial court and an appellate court ruled the men could be prosecuted because they assumed responsibility for the students in New Jersey. The teachers appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court which ruled the state does not have jurisdiction to prosecute against sexual misconduct if it occurred outside the state even if it were a school chaperone.

“The three victims and their families were denied justice because the law as written is ambiguous,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “Two lower courts ruled the case could proceed and even the Supreme Court, in overruling the other two, said its decision ‘may be unsettling.’ Clearly, the law needs to be amended to better protect minors.”

The bill (A-1013) amends state statute granting state jurisdiction for sexual assault crimes committed outside of New Jersey when an individual has supervisory power over a minor.

“It’s outrageous that school employees accused of sexual assault with students who were entrusted to their supervision on a field trip got off scott free because the alleged crime occurred in another country,” concluded Schepisi. “Let’s ensure that anyone who commits a similar crime, under similar circumstances, especially with minors, will be prosecuted and tried.”

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