New Brunswick primary school employee is found guilty of sexually assaulting student
A former New Brunswick middle school special education paraprofessional and coach has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old student on more than one occasion, according to a USA Today article.
Eugene Colbert will be eligible for parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act after serving at least 85% of his sentence at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center for sex offenders, according to the article.
The ruling was given Friday by Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Joseph L. Rea. Colbert forfeits any future public employment and cannot have any contact with the victim or her family, according to the article.
Standing in the courtroom, Colbert said he did not mean to break the trust barrier, according to the article.
“I want to say sorry to her family. Back then, they believed in me, they gave me their oath that I would keep a person safe. I want to say sorry to my family for embarrassing our name. I want to say sorry to the community for not living up to the standards I was supposed to, and I want to apologize to you, your honor, and the prosecutor for bringing a case like this to the courtroom,” he said. “I take full responsibility.”
Colbert’s attorney, Edward Cridge, said: “He wants to seek treatment — he wants to get help."
Sitting next to Assistant Prosecutor Jody Carbone, the victim — through tears — said there is not a day that goes by that she does not think about what Colbert did to her, according to the article.
“My life has been turned upside down. I feel horrible. I feel used and disrespected. I trusted a person who shouldn’t be trusted,” the teen said, according to the article.
The teen said she has flashbacks of every moment they had together.
“My life is a living hell,” she said. “I am not the girl I used to be. I have extreme trust issues. I don’t feel safe. I have panic attacks. I’m trying to better myself and not let it take control of my life. I don’t want to be in pain anymore. I hope I can be happy once again.”
After listening to the victim read her statement, Rea asked Colbert if he truly realized what he had done. The Superior Court Judge said Colbert knew the victim was vulnerable due to her youth, “but you did it anyway,” adding that Colbert will learn about victim empathy in prison, according to the article.
“One day you will realize just how bad this is,” Rea said to Colbert.
Colbert was employed as a special education paraprofessional at New Brunswick Middle School, where he earned a salary of $30,499. He also served as an assistant coach of the middle school boy‘s basketball and football teams, according to the article.
Colbert was dismissed from the school system where he had worked since 2009, according to the article.
Between November 2018 and March 2019, Colbert engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with the student while on school property and during school hours, an investigation determined.
Audio recordings of a court proceeding indicate the victim told officials the relationship with Colbert began with him sending her pictures of his genitals on social media and asking her to send him pictures of her intimate body parts, according to the article.
The relationship between the paraprofessional and student allegedly included oral sex on two occasions, digital penetration three different times, vaginal and penile penetration and sexual contact, according to the article.
The crimes occurred when Colbert had supervisory and disciplinary power over the victim. Colbert allegedly used keys to access the places where the assaults occurred, such as storage rooms and trailers, according to the article.
On June 17, Colbert pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and avoided trial, according to the article.
According to the prosecutor's office, New Brunswick school officials initially failed to notify law enforcement of the criminal activity as required by the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law Enforcement officials.
Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.