A 27-year-old Cliffside Park teacher was arrested this weekend for allegedly having sex with one of his students. NY1's Lisa Yip filed the following report.
Robert Ingenito, a Cliffside Park High School English teacher, was absent from class Monday. The Bergen County prosecutor says he won't be back for some time.
Ingenito, 27, was arrested Saturday and charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree. He allegedly had a seven-month-long sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl who was in his first-period English class.
"Although she is 17 years of age, that he is a teacher places this into a very serious classification of sexual assault,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.
If convicted, Ingenito faces up to 20 years behind bars.
Many of his students said they were surprised to hear of the allegations.
"He was a good teacher,” said senior Chrisbell Taveras. “I had him my freshman year and I had him this year for English. I never thought he would do something like that."
"It is messed up,” said another senior Alan Watson. “The girl is underage and everything. It’s a violation of trust."
Authorities say Ingenito met and befriended the girl two years ago, while he was an advisor and she was a member of the high school's philosophy club. In March of last year, they allegedly began a sexual relationship.
Police say the acts occurred at Ingenito's home, located on the third floor of a Palisades Park house. Ingenito's neighbors say they are shocked.
"He was a quiet person,” said neighbor Michelle Cleary. “We never really noticed him, to be honest. He wasn't a trouble maker outwardly at least."
Authorities learned of the affair Friday through one of Ingenito's colleagues, a female teacher whom he confided in about the relationship. The school’s superintendent says Ingenito has been on paid suspension until the investigation is completed.
Ingenito has worked for the school since fall of 2003. He was released from Bergen County jail Sunday on $200,000 bail. Authorities are still trying to determine if there are other victims.
- Lisa Yip