NEW BRUNSWICK — A former fifth-grade school teacher and high school swim coach pleaded guilty to charges of having inappropriate sexual relations with a female student and asking her to withhold information from the police about their relationship, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced today.
Sarah E. Blessing, 27, of South Plainfield, pleaded guilty today to charges of criminal sexual contact and witness tampering before the Honorable Joseph Paone, JSC. The state was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Christie Bevacqua.
Under the plea agreement, the state agreed to recommend a sentence of 364 days at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick as a condition of 5 years probation. Blessing will not be allowed to have any contact the victim or unsupervised contact with females under the age of 18 and comply with mental health counseling.
Blessing has also agreed to forfeit her teaching certificate and any ability to hold public office in the future. While Blessing faced considerably more time if convicted of all charges in the indictment, authorities said that the agreement was reached in consultation with the victim and to spare the then 17-year-old victim any further trauma as a result of the criminal justice process. Blessing will be sentenced on Sept. 30 by Paone.
Blessing had been a fifth grade teacher at Park Middle School in Scotch Plains and also a swim coach at the Bishop George Ahr High School in Edison. She had held both positions since 2005. The Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District had suspended her with pay. The Diocese of Metuchen terminated Blessing’s employment.
Blessing was arrested and charged after an investigation by Investigator Raj Chopra of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and Detective Michael Michalski and Detective Tim Farrell of the Edison Police Department determined that Blessing had a sexual relationship with the student beginning in approximately June 2009.
The investigation began after the matter was brought to the attention of law enforcement by the Diocese of Metuchen.
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