Former priest who got a teen pregnant gets to keep teaching job in New Jersey school despite children saying they felt 'unsafe' around him
A former priest who had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl and impregnated her while he was a Catholic priest, will be allowed to keep his job as a middle school teacher, a New Jersey state arbitrator has said.
Rev. Joseph DeShan, as he was formerly known, left the priesthood after a sexual relationship with the teenager came to light and a baby was born. He is said to currently earn more than $85,000 annually teaching sixth-grade students at Cinnaminson Middle School, where parents were in opposition to his role as a teacher.
Now 59-year-old DeShan, a 22-year employee of the Cinnaminson School District, was given a verdict that he will stay in his role despite complaints from parents.
According to reports, DeShan had recently commented on a female student saying she had "pretty green eyes." He was also accused of "conduct unbecoming of a staff member" and there were complaints that children felt unsafe being taught by a "rapist" and a "pedophile." The ruling stated that "the student reported that the comment made her feel “uncomfortable" and added that DeShan made the comment in a “weird voice.”
Prior to leaving his priesthood, DeShan served as a Roman Catholic priest in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when he got a teenager pregnant but he was not prosecuted there. The Cinnaminson officials first learned of the veteran teacher's relationship with the teenager in 2002. By then the girl who got pregnant was fired from her job at the rectory and police were not told when she fell pregnant, The Connecticut Post reports. DeShan is said to have married a doctor and had two more children.
Arbitrator Walt De Treux said: "The Cinnaminson Board of Education (BOE) has not alleged that respondent engaged in any inappropriate conduct while holding public employment. The fact that some parents now demand his removal from the classroom does not give the BOE a second opportunity to revisit pre-employment conduct of which it has been long aware."
He added: "I find that the charges as they relate to alleged current conduct, i.e., the one alleged comment to the female student, are based on hearsay, and therefore, are procedurally deficient and must be dismissed. As the conduct unbecoming charges are based on alleged hearsay complaints from parents and on pre-employment conduct that was addressed by the BOE 16 years ago, I find the tenure charges as to past conduct procedurally deficient and insufficient to support a charge of Conduct Unbecoming a Staff Member."
He is said to have returned to teaching at the school after a three-week suspension and De Treux said he cannot lose his job over an incident they've known about for 17 years.