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Judge: Lyndhurst coach’s sentence for sex with student isn’t enough

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack reluctantly sentenced former Lyndhurst High School football coach Scott Rubinetti  this morning to five years probation and prohibited him from teaching or coaching anywhere in the United States, not even as a volunteer, for having sex with a 17-year-old student and getting her to lie to investigators about it.

“Sometimes I make my decision based on what the victim wants to do,” Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma said. “In this case, the victim has agreed to this sentence.

“I’m not sure it’s enough.”

Roma’s remarks followed a tearful statement by the girl’s father, who described the impact of the unwanted sexual attentions to his teenager on her and the entire family.

“You made me feel like everything we were doing was okay,” the victim, given her opportunity to speak, told Rubinetti, 40. “I don’t want you to ever be able to do this to another student.”

“We send our children to school so they will be safe,” Roma added. “There are many fine, hard-working people in the teaching profession, and through your actions you’ve placed a stain on the entire profession.

“You planned this, you pursued her through text messages,” the judge told him. “Through your actions, you have destroyed two families: the victim’s and your own.”

The judge also noted that Rubinetti had no prior offenses and likely would be rehabilitated through probation.

As part of his plea deal, Rubinetti also must register as a Megan’s Law offender and undergo a psychiatrict evaluation. He also must reimburse the victim’s family for her therapy.

Given the opportunity to speak, Rubinetti said: “I just would like to say I am very sorry for my actions.”

(PHOTO ABOVE: Rubinetti with defense attorney Raymond Flood. STORY/PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

Last month, Rubinetti admitted taking the teen to a Lyndhurst office building in his car and gave her oral sex. He also admitted kissing her on various occasions and exchanging what were characterized as inappropriate text messages.

When he learned there was an official investigation underway, Rubinetti said, he phoned her on Jan. 18, 2012 and told her to deny anything inappropriate had occurred between them.

He was led out of the school in handcuffs exactly a week later.

The woman — who said they had sex in her 2009-2010 senior year — had told a teacher, who notified authorities, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said a little over a year ago.

Scott Rubinetti

The former student, now 19, last year filed a federal lawsuit accusing district officials of being “deliberately indifferent” to information about the relationship, claiming they didn’t “adequately investigate whether there were any signs of sexual abuse.” Rubinetti was named in the suit, along with the Lyndhurst Board of Education and two administrators.

A Bergen County grand jury in August indicted Rubinetti on five counts involving official misconduct, sexual assault, child endangerment, witness tampering and “having inappropriate communications and/or contact” unrelated to the woman’s education. Rubinetti was also charged with smoking pot in her presence.

School officials confirmed that he didn’t have his contract renewed last year.

Rubinetti taught and coached previously at Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes and Northern Valley High School in Demarest.

He returned to his alma mater — and got married — four years ago. His wife, a flight attendant originally from California, currently is on a trip to Ireland with friends.

The Nutley resident previously taught and coached at Ramapo for three years. He was teaching physical education and health at Lyndhurst High School before he was let go.

CLIFFVIEW PILOT first broke the story: Lyndhurst football coach charged in student sex, cover-up attempt

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