Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Teacher Sex Abuse Case Endures

(Patterson, New Jersey) Here's an enduring case dating back to at least February 2003. It involves a 35-year-old 7th-grade teacher at Paterson Public School No. 24, Jodi Marie Thorp, who was charged with having sex with a male student. It's alleged that Thorp, a married mother of two, had "sex at least 20 times between June 2001 and Oct. 31, 2002, with a teenage boy when he was between the ages of 14 and 15."

There has been considerable legal wrangling on the case over the past 3 1/2 years and, as such, Thorp has yet to be tried. Currently, it appears that Thorp faces sexual assault and child endangerment charges plus an added charge of witness tampering. It's unknown whether a trial date has been scheduled.

In the latest development related to the Thorp case, a 19-year-old man, Jose Ramirez, has been charged with witness tampering after visiting the alleged victim Aug. 6 and arranging a 3-way conversation via speakerphone with Jodi Thorp. It's not clear why Jodi Thorp was not stuck with an additional charge of witness tampering.

All in all, the case has dragged on and on and, with rather sketchy reporting, it's not really clear where everything stands. Hopefully, it will be resolved in the near future.

[Update 08/17/06]

Jodi Thorp pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown to endangering the welfare of a child.

From DailyRecord.com:
In exchange for her plea, Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Foy has recommended that Thorp be sentenced to a period of probation and up to 364 days in the county jail. She also must forfeit her teaching license and must register as a convicted sex offender under Megan's Law. She is expected to be sentenced in September.

On Monday, the prosecutor's office charged another former student of Thorp's -- 19-year-old Jose Ramirez of Paterson -- with witness tampering. He allegedly tried to persuade the victim to recant and had Thorp plead with him to change his story so that she would not have to leave her three children and go to prison. With Thorp's guilty plea, the state has promised not to pursue any witness tampering charges against Thorp.
Based upon the reports of her behavior, it would seem prudent to place Thorp behind bars for some period of time, but there's no guarantee that she'll get any. The sympathy of the court may be swayed by the fact that she has three kids at home. Therefore, I predict she gets probation and no jail time.

[Update 11/18/06]

Thorp sentenced to jail.

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