A Toms River man allegedly shared sexually explicit email over the course of a year with a 14-year-old Jackson schools student, where the man works as a music teacher, officials said.
Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said county detectives charged Michael D. Carattini, 29, Toms River, with child endangerment and official misconduct charges.
Lynch Ford said the investigation showed no physical contact occurred between the teacher and the victim, and that the sexually explicit relationship was comprised of email and online communication.
"Our complaints allege that while employed as a teacher in the Jackson Township school district, Michael D. Carattini, 29, Toms River, engaged in an inappropriate relationship in the form of internet and e-mail communications with a 14 year old student," said Lynch Ford. "The communications were of a sexually explicit nature. The complaints do not allege any physical contact between the defendant and the victim."
Lynch Ford told Toms River Patch that the superintendent at the Jackson School district reported the situation to the prosecutor's office after being made aware of it. However, Lynch said the communications between the teacher and the victim began five years ago when the victim was a student.
Lynch Ford said investigators believe the communication lasted about a year. The victim has since graduated from the school and is no longer a student there.
"It is our understanding at this time the communications took place over the course of about one year," Lynch Ford told Patch. "The information only came to the attention of the school authorities recently, and they appropriately referred this for investigation to the Jackson Township Police Department."
Lynch Ford said in an investigation such as this, where there was no physical relationship, it falls under a child endangerment statute. However, because the teacher is a supervisor over a student, official misconduct charges were also filed.
"At this time, the allegations are related to inappropriate electronic communications, which would constitute violations of the child endangerment statute," she said. "Due to the supervisory relationship of the defendant over the victim, and his status as a public employee, official misconduct charges have also been filed."
Lynch Ford would not say whether the student was male or female.
"We do not reveal the name or personal information about a victim, in the interest of protecting the privacy of the victim," Lynch Ford told Patch.
Lynch Ford reported the teacher was suspended from the district.
Carrantini is charged with one count of child endangerment, in the first degree; one count of child endangerment, second degree, as well as one count of official misconduct.
Bail was set by Municipal Court Judge Daniel F. Sahin in the amount of $150,000, no ten percent option, and the defendant is currently released on bail. As a condition of bail, the defendant is prohibited from having any contact with the victim, including written, oral or electronic communications.
Lynch Ford said the investigation is ongoing and praised the lead investigators on the work so far.
She encouraged anyone with information to call Detective Mitch Cowit of the Jackson Township Police Department, 732-928-3012, or Det. Jay Dotto of the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, High Tech Crimes Unit, at 732-929-2027.