By Robert Florida
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II announced that Matthew Swajkowski, 36, of Verona, was taken into custody on September 22 and charged with sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, among other charges.
Swajkowski was employed as a teacher at Verona High School, where he oversaw the school’s chess club. The juvenile victim attended the high school and was a member of the chess club.
In July 2023, the Verona Police Department was notified that the defendant was engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with the juvenile victim. During the course of a joint investigation conducted by the Verona Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, it was determined that the defendant engaged in sexual conduct with the juvenile. The 12 charges against Swajkowski include sexual conduct with a minor, and purposely or knowingly offering or serving or making available an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age for consuming alcoholic beverages.
While the age of consent in New Jersey is 16, it is unlawful for anyone whose “legal, professional or occupational status” gives them “supervisory or disciplinary power” over a child who is at least 16 but less than 18 years old to engage in sexual conduct with that child.
During a detention hearing on September 27, Superior Court Judge Patrick Arre heard arguments from counsel, after which he decided to detain Swajkowski in Essex County jail, where he’ll remain until his case is resolved. Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Sherry Stembridge argued that Swajkowski, given the severity of the charges, should be detained. Swajkowski’s defense attorney, Kevin Sisco, argued for conditional release. Judge Arre ruled that due to the nature and seriousness of the charges, Swajkowski will be detained.
Swajkowski’s next court appearance is scheduled for December 11, 2023.
The allegations against Swajkowski, pictured below, are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.