WOODBRIDGE — A middle school physical education teacher has been arrested on charges of fondling a 14-year-old female student and sending inappropriate cell phone messages to her, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Woodbridge Police Chief William Trenery announced today.
Matthew Smith, 26, of Avenel section of Woodbridge was arrested at his home at 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday and was charged with aggravated criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of the child, according to authorities.
Smith, a teacher at the Fords Middle School, was being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick after his bail was set at $75,000. He must post the full amount before he can be released from custody, authorities said.
Smith was charged after an investigation by Detective Robert Ptaszynski of the Woodbridge Police Department and Investigator James Kelly of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that Smith sent sexually explicit communications to the student’s cell phone and, in a separate incident, fondled the student in a vehicle, authorities said. The alleged incidents occurred in June 2009 when the child was 14 years old.
The investigation began after the child’s mother notified school authorities, who contacted police, authorities said. The mother also contacted police.
Smith began as a student teacher at the middle school in the spring of 2008 and started as a full-time physical education teacher at the school in September 2008, according to officials.
Investigators ask anyone with information on this or similar incidents is to call Detective Ptaszynski at (732) 634-7700, or Investigator Kelly at (732) 745-3600.
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