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Judge Rules Sex Crime Charges Can Be Filed in Incident That Occurred Overseas

August 13, 2012 | Posted In Criminal Law - Sex Crimes

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys Discuss Important Ruling

A New Jersey judge has ruled that two high school employees who allegedly had sex with students on a trip to Germany can be charged with sex crimes in New Jersey, even though the alleged incident occurred outside of New Jersey.

Artur Sopel, a former vice president of operations at Paramus Catholic High School in Paramus, NJ, and Michael Sumulikowski, a former substitute and part-time coach, were charged with engaging in sexual acts with several students while serving as chaperones during a school trip to Germany in early 2011. 

One of the students later confided in another teacher that she had engaged in sexual activities with one of the chaperones on the trip. The teacher referred the matter to the New Jersey Division of Heath and Family Services, and the agency contacted law enforcement.

Prosecutors allege that a permission form that parents signed prior to the students’ departure transferred responsibility for the students to the school.  However, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers argued that the case could be not filed in New Jersey, because the actual incident occurred outside the country and in another jurisdiction. 

The Superior Court judge ruled that “under the narrow facts of this case, the court finds that ‘conduct’ in New Jersey constitutes an anchor, to which jurisdiction to this state is tethered.”  He further reasoned that, “If the state is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that such conduct commenced in New Jersey and continued overseas, defendants may be held criminally responsible for the consequences of such conduct under New Jersey law, notwithstanding where the sexual acts occurred.”

Both men have been charged with 25 counts of sexual assault and child endangerment.  If convicted, the men face a maximum of 10 years in prison.  They may also be eligible for lifelong parole, and may need to register as sex offenders under Megan's Law.

The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons who have been charged with DUI, drug crimes, sex crimes, murder, fraud, assault and other crimes across New Jersey.

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