NEW BRUNSWICK – Sayreville Middle School teacher John Denuto, who’s been charged with sexually assaulting a former student during private coaching sessions, was placed on home detention, a judge ruled.
Appearing Friday afternoon before Middlesex County Assignment Judge Alberto Rivas, Denuto, 43, of Spotswood, learned his release from jail is contingent upon having no contact with children or the accuser.
Denuto didn’t speak during the 40-minute court session. He sat next to his attorney, Wolodymyr Tyshchenko, with his head down. Tyshchenko said Denuto’s brother, sister and sister-in-law were in the courtroom to support his client.
Tyshchenko sought his client released on his own recognizance. Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Shevlin sought the home detention with no contact with kids after withdrawing his motion for detention.
Denuto was arrested Saturday on charges of sexual assault, filming child pornography, endangering the welfare of a child and possession of child pornography. During Friday’s hearing, the sexual assault charge was changed from a second-degree crime to a sexual contact charge.
Following his arrest, he was suspended with pay from his teaching job. State records show Denuto, a special education math teacher, earned a salary of $89,972 and has worked as a district educator since September 2003.
He also has been fired as head wrestling coach at Union County College.
READ: NJ coach allegedly sexually assaulted ex-student at Sayreville school board president’s home
Denuto, who has coached wrestling and football at 15 different high schools throughout New Jersey, is accused of offering private coaching sessions to a former Sayreville Middle School student in October 2016, several months after the student had graduated from eighth grade.
Shevlin said the accuser came forward last month and told a friend, who convinced him to tell his mother. The accuser had talked to Denuto about coaching him for cross country.
Shevlin said the accuser started going over to Denuto’s house that summer and started getting massages from Denuto that progressed to the accuser taking off his shirt and pants and eventually nude massages, Shevlin said.
Denuto also allegedly put his private parts between the accuser’s buttocks, Shevlin said.
Denuto allegedly had text messages on his phone from the accuser, some of which he allegedly removed when his phone was seized.
“There is a lot of information on his phone that we are still going through,” Shevlin said, adding there are two videos of the accuser naked on Denuto’s couch. Shevlin said data of the video indicates it was taken when the accuser was 16 years old, which relates to filming child pornography.
Tyshchenko said there is no evidence of any sexual penetration. He said the accuser said Denuto was never undressed, was always wearing clothes, never used any force and the accuser never indicated he was uncomfortable and never told Denuto, ‘no,’ adding there was no proof of a second-degree sexual assault charge.
Tyshchenko also argued Denuto’s phone was seized against his will and the warrant to search his phone was obtained after the phone was seized. He also questioned whether any video of the accuser could have been taken more recently when the accuser became an adult. He said accuser continued to see Denuto up until December 2019 when he was 18.
“It’s not like the relationship ended way back when the victim was 16,” said Tyshchenko, adding there is no proof Denuto created the videos on his phone.
The alleged sexual assault occurred more than once when the student was between the ages of 13 and 15 at a Sayreville home that Denuto shared with Sayreville Board of Education President Kevin Ciak.
Ciak has not been charged in connection with the alleged assault. Ciak has said he had no idea the alleged activity was going on in his home and he is cooperating with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation.
One school board member has publicly called for Ciak to resign from the board. That member, John Walsh, said Wednesday henot speaking for the board.
“Myself and several board members have been privately asking Kevin Ciak for his resignation the last few days,” Walsh said. “I am now publicly asking Kevin to resign from the Sayreville Board of Education.”
READ: NJ teacher, who’s coached at 15 high schools, charged with sex assault on teen
Court documents show the Sayreville Police Department was notified in December about allegations of sexual assault by Denuto on an accuser under age 18. The accuser told law enforcement officials Denuto was his eighth grade teacher and he exchanged telephone numbers after the student’s June 2016 graduation when Denuto offered to train the victim in a sport.
The accuser reported Denuto allegedly touched his intimate parts and committed an act of sexual penetration. The victim also reported his eyes were covered and Denuto allegedly took photos him, according to court documents.
Denuto’s cell phone was seized by investigators on Jan. 9, 2020.
READ: NJ teacher, wrestling coach allegedly sexually assaulted ex-student during private home lessons
Denuto formerly served as head coach at Sayreville War Memorial High School and also has coached wrestling at 11 high schools, three recreation programs and two clubs.
In 2009 Denuto was not rehired as the Sayreville High School head wrestling coach after parents of team members alleged he conducted strip searches of wrestlers. An investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Division of Youth and Family Services determined the allegations were unfounded and the Sayreville school board heard testimony and reviewed evidence before voting to keep Denuto as wrestling coach.
More allegations were brought by parents and another hearing was held in July 2009 after which the board voted to terminate Denuto as wrestling coach and transferred him from teaching at the high school to the middle school.
In 2010 Denuto filed suit against the school board, school officials and parents who brought the allegations to the Board of Education and later settled with all the parties, except two parents.
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.