A teacher and basketball coach at Jackson Memorial High School has been charged with multiple sex offenses for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager on a regular basis over a period of several months.
53-year-old William J. O'Neill faces charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.
The victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and told police that the sexual abuse started in August 2018 and continued until she came forward on Saturday, January 12. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office has declined to say if the victim is one of O'Neill's students or basketball players.
O'Neill is currently being held at the Ocean County Jail awaiting a detention hearing.
In a letter sent to parents on Monday, the Jackson School District claimed that the alleged crimes did not happen on school property.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent helps sexual abuse survivors and their families find justice in civil cases. We've asked him to add some input regarding the legal options available to survivors and their families in cases of coach and teacher sexual abuse:
Our teachers are supposed to be pillars of our communities. We all trust teachers and other educational professionals to help our children learn and grow into successful adults. But unfortunately, not all teachers are worthy of this trust. While most teachers are honorable people, a minority are sexual predators who abuse students. When allegations of sexual abuse arise, these predators must be investigated and prosecuted, the victims and their families must get the support they need, and the school must be held accountable if their negligence allowed the abuse to occur.
Sometimes, school districts are partially to blame for abuse because of negligence. For example, a school district might be considered negligent if they failed to run a background check before hiring an employee of sexual abuse or if they failed to report suspected abuse to law enforcement. In cases that involve negligence, the victims and their families may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of coach or teacher sexual abuse, we understand how difficult this time is for your family. To learn more about how you can find justice through the legal system, contact one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys for a free consultation.