Former priest who impregnated a 16 year old girl will keep his teaching job

Joseph DeShan

Sometimes, people get away with things that make us furious. The letter of the law sometimes misses proper justice by a long shot. A good example of this is a recent ruling that allows an ex-priest who impregnated a 16 year old parishioner to continue to teach reading and English to 6th graders in New Jersey.

59 year old Joseph DeShan is listed on the List Of Credibly Accused Diocesan Priests &
Accused Religious Order Priests Who Served In The Diocese Of Bridgeport as being removed from his ministry in 1989 over a “single allegation” at the St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, CT. This list does not provide details of the allegations. But the church’s records give us an insight into DeShan’s seedy, perverted past.

Many publications reporting on this story say that in 1988, DeShan “initiated a sexual relationship” with a 14 year old who worked in the church’s rectory. In all actuality, this man partook in pedophilic abuse with a young and vulnerable girl. When the girl fell obviously pregnant within two years, Edward Egan (the cathedral’s Bishop) fired the girl from her position and never alerted the police to the inappropriate relationship. She was then 16 years old, pregnant, and the victim of more than 2 years of sexual abuse.

In 1990, just one year after being removed from the Catholic Church but receiving no real-world, legal punishment, DeShan was hired as an elementary school teacher in Cinnaminson, New Jersey. He eventually moved on to Cinnaminson Middle School, where he teaches at to this day. digs into the response of Cinnaminson families after his past was discovered in 2002:

..the relationship was revealed in 2002. By then, DeShan was already a popular teacher in Cinnaminson. School officials removed him from the classroom for three weeks in 2002 while they investigated. But he quickly returned to teaching after some parents and students rallied to his defense.

We are now seeing a new wave of fervor against DeShan in 2019 because “parental and societal views have changed”, says school officials. But though there is strong support in removing DeShan, arbitrator Walt De Treux said that there isn’t enough evidence to fire the man.

Given that formal charges have never been brought before a judge for DeShan’s sexual misconduct, the fact that the statute of limitations has expired, and that there is no proof of him engaging in any wrong-doing while being publicly employed, the school board feels as if their hands are tied.

There has at least been one public complaint against the English teacher from a 12 year old girl who says DeShan made her uncomfortable. The girl reports that he spoke with her in a “weird voice”. This is reported in the seven-page ruling that concluded DeShan could keep his job.

“Look at me,” DeShan allegedly told the girl. “Let me see your pretty green eyes. You don’t see them too much anymore.”

It is hard to project the intentions of a rapist onto this particular phrase without being present, hearing his voice, or being on the receiving end of the comment. However, the fact that impregnating a 16 year old girl is not enough to bar this man from being around teenagers is ludicrous. Why is the school board requiring even more abuse before they will take action?

One particular and uncomfortable factor is money. In New Jersey, a teacher who works three years and one day is considered tenure. Tenured teachers must go through a lengthy and expensive process before being fired. The New Jersey School Board Association says;

Firing a teacher starts with a lengthy hearing. He explains, “The process takes about a year. It can cost in the six-digits because that includes attorneys fees, paying for a substitute teacher and paying the teacher because after 120 days, by law the teachers’ salaries are restored”
Even if it is decided that the teacher in question should be fired, that doesn’t mean the teacher will be fired. Yaple explains, “It’s up to the state education officials to decide whether or not that teacher would lose their job…..Because of the time and the cost and the unpredictability, you really only see the worst of the worst cases being brought forth.”

It is disturbing to think that a rapist can be a popular teacher, and that one child’s continuous rape was not enough to keep this man from other children. But if this school is hesitant to fire this man over money and the headache of a legal battle, they may as well re-open as a Catholic school and jump on the brand 100%.





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