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Lyndhurst football coach admits sex with student

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

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Former Lyndhurst High School football coach Scott Rubinetti will get five years probation, must register as a Megan’s Law offender and can never teach or coach again in the U.S. — even as a volunteer — in exchange for pleading guilty today to having sex with a 17-year-old student and getting her to lie to investigators about it.

Rubinetti also must undergo a psychiatrict evaluation under the plea accepted early this afternoon by Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma in Hackensack. (PHOTO ABOVE: Rubinetti with defense attorney Raymond Flood. STORY/PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

As the woman, now 19, watched in the Hackensack courtroom, Rubinetti said he took her 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.

Several times, Roma had to tell him to speak up during questioning by Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi, who heads the agency’s Sex Crimes Unit.

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 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.

The former Montclair State star kicker had been free on $150,000 bail — charged with sexual assault, child endangerment and witness tampering — before this morning’s 15-minute plea hearing.

Roma carefully explained the Megan’s Law provisions to him, saying they “will follow you wherever you go for the rest of your life.”

The judge also warned Rubinetti that state authorities can place additional restrictions on him depending on how he is classified.

It was unclear today whether the woman intends to speak at Rubinetti’s April 19 sentencing.

Before and after today’s hearing, Rubinetti — surrounded by friends and family members — dodged reporters. The woman, meanwhile, stuck close to victim advocates from the prosecutor’s office.

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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