Cinnaminson School District

Former Priest Who Once Impregnated A Teenager Will Keep His Teaching Job

There's definitely something to be said for not judging people for past misdeeds and allowing them to improve themselves. We simply have to believe that people can get better and do better.

Mind you, there's also something to be said for protecting the innocent from ever becoming victims, and it's one of the big reasons why a recent ruling about a middle school teacher in New Jersey is so troubling.

In fact, parents in New Jersey's Cinnaminson school district were outraged to learn that Joseph DeShan would be allowed to keep his teaching job.

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DeShan, a former Catholic priest, had been brought up on tenure charges by the school board after accusations of "conduct unbecoming a staff member" and demands from many parents that their children be removed from his classroom.

Back in 1988, when DeShan was a Catholic priest in Connecticut, he started an inappropriate relationship with a girl who worked in the church rectory.

Unsplash | DDP

According to the The Connecticut Post, he had impregnated her within two years and, instead of making it a criminal matter, the now-deceased bishop of his diocese had the girl fired from her job in the rectory.

DeShan was removed from the ministry in 1989.

Cinnaminson School District

He has been named in the Diocese of Bridgeport's list of credibly accused diocesan priests. Following the scandal, he moved to New Jersey and became a middle school teacher.

DeShan's past came up once in 2002, at which point the school district opted to merely suspend him for three weeks.

That turned out to be a fateful decision following the most recent allegations against him.

Last year, DeShan was accused of making some uncomfortable comments about a 12-year-old student, reportedly saying "Let me see your pretty green eyes. You don't see them too much anymore," using a "weird voice."

Taken with DeShan's history, parents understandably wanted their kids out of his classroom, or him out of their classroom.

At an October school board meeting, outraged parents described DeShan as a rapist, a pedophile, and "creepy."

And yet, an arbitrator adjudicating those tenure charges ruled that DeShan will be allowed to keep his job with the school board.

The abitrator's ruling hinges on two matters in particular.

For one, there's the fact that the most recent allegations are based on hearsay evidence alone.

"The [Board of Education] ... insinuates that the comment was laced with improper intentions and sexual connotations, yet it provides no non-hearsay evidence for the basis of that implication," the arbitrator's ruling read.

And then there was the matter of DeShan's previous suspension.

The arbitrator basically said that the school board had its chance to let DeShan go over that behavior and passed on it.

"The fact that some parents now demand his removal from the classroom does not give the (school board) a second opportunity to revisit pre-employment conduct of which it has long been aware," the ruling stated.

And so the arbitrator ruled that DeShan should be reinstated with full pay and benefits.

Needless to say, parents and victim advocacy groups are "absolutely appalled." As the Courier Post reported, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said "This decision not only flies in the face of common sense, it may also endanger more innocent lives."

School district officials said that they were unsure of what would happen next. "We are disappointed by the arbitrator's ruling and we are currently working with counsel to determine our next steps," a spokesman said.

h/t New York Post, Connecticut Post, Courier Post