Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Teacher Pleads Guilty

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Teacher Pleads Guilty

Article excerpt

A 27-year-old Clifton High School teacher charged in May with having sex with one of her 16-year-old male students pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of criminal sexual contact and faces a year in jail and five years of probation.

Clifton resident Kristin Leone was indicted in September by a Passaic County grand jury on charges of sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, luring and enticing a child, two counts of criminal sexual contact and two counts of official misconduct.

In exchange for her guilty plea, the remaining counts in the indictment will be dismissed when she is sentenced on June 7 by state Superior Court Judge Donna Gallucio in Paterson.

She will also be prohibited from working for the state of New Jersey, must forfeit to the state a number of teaching certificates she has earned, and must register as a Megan's Law sex offender. She remains free on $100,000 bail pending sentencing.

Leone was arrested on May 7 after a joint investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office and Clifton police, which was triggered after high school administrators informed authorities of possible misconduct.

Through a series of yes and no answers to questions asked by defense attorney Ronald Ricci of Woodland Park, Leone admitted in court Monday that the student took her hand and placed it on his genitals during a tutoring session at school on April 26 and that she kept her hand there for her own sexual gratification.

Leone, who was the boy's social studies teacher, also admitted to inviting the student to her Clifton apartment on April 29 and to placing her hand on the boy's genitals for her own sexual gratification.

Authorities had alleged before her guilty plea that the two had sexual intercourse at her apartment. While there was no sign that anyone was coerced, the relationship was not legal. While 16 is the legal age of sexual consent in New Jersey, it is illegal for a high school student and teacher to have sexual relations because the student is a subordinate in the teacher's charge. …

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