Ruling in NJ school trip sex case delayed by flood

These April 5, 2011 booking photos provided by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office shows Michael Sumulikoski and Artur Sopel. (AP Photo/Bergen County Prosecutor's Office)
July 9, 2012 6:15:09 PM PDT
A ruling on whether New Jersey can prosecute two high school employees accused of having sex with students on a school trip to Germany was postponed Monday, after a damaged a water pipe forced the early closure of the courthouse where it was being held.

A decision had been expected Monday regarding the two suspended Paramus Catholic High school employees.

Their lawyers have argued that the state can't prosecute them because the alleged acts took place in Germany. Prosecutors have argued that a permission form signed by parents gives the school significant responsibility for taking care of the students.

Artur Sopel was the school's vice president of operations and Michael Sumulikoski was a substitute teacher and assistant football coach. Both acted as chaperones on the trip in February 2011. Both men have insisted, through their lawyers, that they did nothing inappropriate during the trip.

It's not yet known when the New Jersey ruling will be rescheduled, or when the courthouse will reopen.

Authorities shut down the Bergen County Courthouse on Monday afternoon after a drug court defendant allegedly kicked and damaged a water pipe, spurring flooding that injured two people.

Benjamin Blohm, 27, of New Milford was arrested and charged with criminal mischief and causing a disturbance that caused widespread injury. Authorities said he's in custody on $50,000 bail.

Blohm allegedly kicked a hallway water pipe around noon, following a court appearance, Moriarty said. But it's not clear what spurred the act or if he's retained a lawyer.

Water soon flooded three of the court's four floors, causing a judge and sheriff's officer to slip and fall. The judge was being treated at a hospital, while the officer was treated at the scene.

The courthouse was closed around 2 p.m. Monday.


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