On May 12, 2016, I wrote an article about a female Passaic Valley High School student having received $35,000 from the school district to settle her lawsuit that claimed that one of her teachers engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior.  I have since learned that the teacher avoided a jail sentence, served an abbreviated probationary sentence and is now seeking to expunge from his record the conviction underlying the alleged misconduct.  Following is a chronology of documents related to the teacher’s conviction and subsequent efforts to have the conviction expunged.

August 7, 1997:

The teacher, Demetrick A. Williams, then 19 years of age, is convicted in Wayne Municipal Court of an amended charge of marijuana possession and fined $250.

September 9, 2008:

Regarding the charges relating to the female student, Williams waived indictment and the Passaic County Prosecutor filed an accusation charging Williams with Fourth Degree Child Abuse and Neglect, contrary to N.J.S.A. 9:6-3, for having “abused, abandoned, [having been] cruel and/or neglectful” of the female student.  Williams signed off on a plea form in which he recognized his exposure to a maximum sentence of eighteen months imprisonment and a $7,500 fine.  According to the plea form, the Prosecutor recommended a 180 jail term while the judge promised Williams would receive probation rather than a custodial sentence.  Williams also promised to “never seek employment teaching children.”

In a transcript of his hearing before Judge Ernest M. Caposela, Williams admitted that in 2007 and/or 2008 he encouraged the “female, age 14 or 15, identified in [court] papers as C.C.” to take his “cell phone on at least one occasion . . . into the girl’s toilet room and photograph her private parts.”  Judge Caposela told Williams that despite the Prosecutor having sought a 180-day jail term, that the court would “give [him] straight probation and not impose the 180 days in the county jail.”

March 9, 2009:

A Judgment of Conviction is entered convicting Williams of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3) (Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Pornography)) despite the plea agreement having stated that Williams pleaded guilty to N.J.S.A. 9:6-3 (Child Abuse and Neglect).  Williams, who received credit for two days served in custody immediately after his arrest, was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay various state assessments.  In sentencing Williams, Judge Caposela found that that mitigating factors “substantially outweighed” the aggravating factors.

June 10, 2010:
A judge (the signature is not legible) released Williams from probation after he served 14 out of the 24 months imposed. According to the Order for Early Discharge of Probation, Williams “has been fully cooperative . . . and remained out of trouble” and “is requesting an early discharge from Probation so that he can continue on with his life and put this matter behind him.”

May 6, 2015:

Williams moved to correct the Judgment of Conviction to amend the charge from N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3) (Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Pornography)) to N.J.S.A. 9:6-3 (Child Abuse and Neglect).  According to Williams’ letter brief, “it is clear that a clerical error occurred” because had Williams been convicted of the Endangering charge, the probationary sentence he received would have been “impermissible.”

September 18, 2015:

An Amended Judgment of Conviction is entered by Judge Caposela amending the charge for which Williams was convicted from N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3) to N.J.S.A. 9:6-3.

December 9, 2015:

Williams filed Verified Petition for Expungement.  The Petition set forth Williams’ prior marijuana charge, the Child Abuse and Neglect Charge, his early release from probation and argued that Williams is “entitled to have expunged the records of his arrests, and any and all records and information pertaining thereto.”  Williams provided a Certification in which he acknowledged that he asked “a fifteen (15) year old student at Passaic Valley Regional High School, where [he] taught, [to] take a photograph of her breasts on [his] cellular phone” and said that he now “shudders to think now about how imprudent and shameful those actions were.”

He went on to say that after his arrest, he accomplished several academic achievements including obtaining his master’s degree from Montclair State, his doctorate in higher education and becoming an adjunct professor at Rowan University where he sits on Rowan’s committee for dissertations.  He also cites his nine year marriage, two children and having obtained his black belt in Taekwondo.  Attached to the Petition are positive letters from Anthony Bien-Aime, All-Star Taekwondo & Fitness Head Instructor Edward Licerio, Jr. and Rashon L. Mickens, Principal of Abraham Clark High School in Roselle, NJ.

February 12, 2016:

In a letter to Judge Miguel A. de la Carrera, Passaic County Assistant Prosecutor Robert J. Wisse opposed Williams’ expungement petition on two grounds.  First, Wisse argued that Williams needs to wait until June 7, 2020–ten years after he completed probation–before being eligible for expungement and that he hasn’t established eligibility for the “shorter 5-year waiting period” because the documents that Williams said were attached to his petition “were not included in the expungement packet.”  Weiss also argued that the Child Endangerment conviction renders the prior marijuana possessory conviction ineligible for expungement.  The Division of State Police made similar arguments in its objection.

February 27, 2016:

In his lawyer’s letter to Judge de la Carrera, Williams agrees that the marijuana conviction is ineligible for expungement and said that his failure to include the exhibits w

As of the date of this writing, Judge de la Carrera will hear Williams’ expungement petition on Friday, June 24, 2016.  Williams’ lawyer is David J. Altieri of Galantucci, Patuto, De Vencentes, Potter & Doyle of Hackensack.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]