TOMS RIVER – A local teacher and basketball coach is being held in Ocean County Jail after being charged with sexually assaulting a minor.
Jackson Township educator and coach William J. O’Neill, 53, of Jackson and an employee at Jackson Memorial High School, was arrested Jan. 13. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.
He’s pending a detention hearing.
The victim, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer said, is between 13-16 years old. His office did not reveal the gender of the victim, or if the victim was a student of O’Neill’s.
The abuse allegedly started in Summer 2018 and continued until Jan. 12.
An investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact OCPO Det. Stephanie Bayha at 732-929-2027 or Jackson Township Police Det. Michael Goetz at 732-928-1111.
According to a release sent to parents by the district, the alleged offenses did not occur on school property.
The release states that “in accordance with state law, the employee has been suspended with pay during the investigation. He will not be permitted on school property. Our district will continue to work closely with law enforcement and our school resource officers during the investigation.”
Information on the charges should be gathered directly from law enforcement sources.
The district’s statement noted that “this is a police matter, which means the district is not at liberty to discuss it further. However, we do want our community to understand the strict policies and procedures we have in place to protect our students.” All district employees undergo a criminal history background check before they commence employment in the district to ensure they are free of any criminal record.
The district is alerted immediately of any criminal charges. Those procedures were followed in this case.
The administration added in their statement that “the safety and security of our students and staff is our most important priority. As this involves a district staff member, we want our families to know that if any student needs help processing this information, we encourage you to contact your school’s guidance counselor or principal.”
-Bob Vosseller contributed to this report.