John M. Denuto, a wrestling coach at Union County College, has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenager, according to a report from NJ.com. The incidents allegedly occurred in October 2016 with victims between the ages of 13 and 15.
The 43-year-old Denuto has been charged with sexual assault, possession of child pornography and photographing a child in a sex act.
Denuto has since been fired from his position following the arrest.
“The safety and well-being of our students is and has always been our highest priority,” the school’s superintendent said in a statement. “We are shocked and deeply troubled by what has occurred and are currently cooperating fully with law enforcement.”
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Sergeant Daniel Ellmeyer of the Sayreville Police Department (732) 727-4444, or Detective Julissa Alvarado of the Middleses County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3711.
Over the course of the past year alone, a handful of teachers have been arrested on similar charges, including 25-year-old substitute teacher Alexis Mercedes Boberg in Baltimore, Beulah High School teacher Kelsie Schmidt in North Dakota, Rancocas Valley Regional High School teacher Alexandra Reiner in New Jersey, and 50-year-old Florida substitute teacher Angela Jean Stanton in Florida. Additionally, Texas teachers Meredith Null and Edna Longoria were arrested on similar charges.
As for why the number of these incidents has seemingly increased, studies suggest that smartphones are the primary reason for the spike in illicit relationships, as it allows teachers to communicate with the minors without supervision.
According to a report from the Texas Education Association, smartphones make easy for teachers to privately text and talk with students and also make it possible for teachers and students to share explicit images.