A New Jersey woman is facing numerous charges, as well as a civil lawsuit, for allegedly sending explicit photos to a teenage boy who was one of her third grade students and having a sexual relationship with him.
Stephanie Carafa, a middle school teacher in Bergen County, was arrested in October 2018 and has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated criminal sexual contact, PEOPLE reports. Prior to her arrest, police were investigating reports that around a dozen high school students were sharing explicit photos of teenage girls; however, during the course of that investigation, authorities learned that the group was also in possession of inappropriate videos and photos of Carafa, and that Carafa had allegedly been carrying on an inappropriate relationship with a teenager who used to be in her third grade class.
There are conflicting reports of the boy’s age; PEOPLE reports that the victim in question is 16 years old, while NorthJersey.com says that the teen was 13. NorthJersey.com also reports that Carafa not only taught the victim in third grade, but in fifth and seventh grade as well.
Prosecutors claim that the relationship turned sexual in February 2018, with Kristin DeMarco, an assistant prosecutor, telling NorthJersey.com, “Naked photos, sexual conversations and even meetings after school in her classroom did in fact occur.”
They would converse on Snapchat and those talks eventually turned inappropriate, with Carafa allegedly discussing her sexual preferences with the child, according to the outlet.
Adding to Carafa’s troubles, the boy’s parents filed a civil lawsuit on his behalf last week, PEOPLE reports. The suit reportedly names not only Carafa, but the Board of Education, as well as the former superintendent and principal at the child’s school, none of whom have responded to the suit, according to the outlet.
The suit alleges that Carafa had sexually explicit conversations with the teen via text message every day and “encouraged [him] to touch” her sexually when they spent time together in her classroom.
Carafa, who posted bond and is free as she awaits trial later this year, pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to PEOPLE. Her attorney has said that the explicit photos, which do not show the face of the person in them, could have been stolen from her phone by a hacker.
“There’s been no forensic evidence provided whatsoever on where these pictures came from, how they were received,” attorney Frank Carbonetti said in 2018, according to NorthJersey.com.
Stephanie Carafa is the daughter of Lodi, New Jersey Mayor Emil Carafa who, in a statement obtained by NorthJersey.com, called his daughter “the love of my life, as is my family.”
“There is a process in this country, and that process is the court of law,” his statement reads. “I know that people in their human nature are inquisitive, and I understand that. I respect their inquisitiveness, but my main concern right now is my daughter.”
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