Teacher accused of improper interaction with 10 students

March 8, 2011 4:44:27 PM PST
A middle school teacher in Camden County, New Jersey, who was already in trouble involving a student, is now facing a list of new and disturbing accusations.

Charles Reilly is an art teacher and a town councilman in Pine Hill. The charges he is facing stem from interactions with ten current and former students.

Action News spoke to School District Superintendent Dr. Ken Koczur Tuesday morning. He tells us, the art teacher has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

"We have invited Camden County Coalition of Traumatic Loss to speak to our staff and students," explained Dr. Koczur.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pine Hill Mayor Fred Costantino tells Action News that a letter of resignation was delivered to his office stating Reilly is stepping down from his post of Borough Councilman effective immediately.

42-year-old Pine Hill art teacher Charles Reilly was charged with having inappropriate conversations in person and online with nine additional male victims from 12 to 15-years-old. Some of the alleged conversations may have taken place over two years.

"First he friend requested me and I accepted it, then my mom removed him as a friend, and he friend requested me again, and we just ignored it," eighth grader Jasmine Caraballo said.

After multiple attempts to Facebook friend Caraballo and her friends, her mother Jennifer Ritchie says she went to the Pine Hill Middle School principal in October about Reilly. She says she got little response from the school then.

Ritchie became upset when the notice was sent home to parents last week about Reilly as Jennifer believes some of these incidents could have been avoided.

"Facebook is a social network to talk your friends, and it shouldn't be students that you're friends with," Ritchie said, adding, "There's nothing in common with a 42-year-old and 12-year-old, 13-year-old student."

Along with victim statements, investigators have retrieved digital copies of such conversations conducted through Facebook chats and in one case an undercover investigator posing as an adolescent boy participated in an explicit online conversation with Reilly.

He was also charged with three counts associated with the creation and distribution of child pornography after investigators received information Reilly attempted to get an underage male to take explicit photographs of himself and send them to Reilly.

Reilly was initially charged on March 3rd after a student came forward to authorities. An investigation quickly followed. Investigators say they also found child pornography at Reilly's home.

Family friend Colleen Naylor came to Reilly's defense, saying, "Great guy. I got five boys. He's been nothing but good to my kids."

Many students spoke well of their art teacher, some remembering him as one of their best teachers even as they went on to high school.

"Mr. Reilly was my art teacher for all five years in middle school. Amazing man, he never did anything wrong. He always had people around him, but it was family. He was the nicest man I ever met and I don't believe a word anyone is saying," former student Gianna Hartley said.

Action News did try to discuss the allegations with Reilly, but he refused to come to the door of his home.

The mayor of Pine Hill says he has known Reilly for years and is shocked at the allegations and tremendously sorry for all involved.

The school district superintendent says counseling will be in place for all middle and high school students.