A retired Union County middle school teacher and theater director was charged with sexually assaulting a student while on school grounds several years ago.
Ronald Wells, 69, asked the alleged victim to join him after school to model costumes for a school play and, between costume changes, began touching the student in a sexual manner, according to Special Victims Unit Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor, who is prosecuting the case.
The incident occurred in a third-floor room of the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School in 2016, Lawlor said.
Wells, a Summit resident, was arrested without incident on Friday pending a first appearance and detention hearing scheduled to take place in Union County Superior Court.
Lawlor said she intended to file a petition to keep Wells detained pending the adjudication of the case against him.
Wells was charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact, Acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Summit Police Chief Andrew Bartolotti announced Monday.
“No child should be exposed to this kind of criminal conduct in our schools, especially from a person entrusted with their education,” said Ruotolo. “I am grateful that the Summit Police Department and my office were able to collaborate to bring this suspect to justice.”
Anyone with information about this or similar incidents involving defendant Wells is being urged to contact Summit Police Department Detective Sgt. Ryan Peters at 908-273-5871.
Convictions on second-degree criminal offenses are commonly punishable by terms of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
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