Former New Jersey teacher John Q. Angeline was indicted in 2015 for aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The alleged victim was a 15-year-old boy who reported ongoing sexual abuse over a four-year period. The case has languished since Angeline’s indictment, making its way toward trial while plea negotiations continue. All the while, Angeline has been out on $150,000 bail.
On June 28, the case came up for a hearing where Angeline was expected to plead guilty. The alleged victim’s mother – who now lives out of state — flew in to Newark airport to attend the hearing. When she landed, however, she received voicemails from prosecutors explaining that they’d rejected the plea deal, because it had been too lenient. The mother attended the court date anyway; Angeline did not.
The case was heard before Middlesex County Judge Joseph Rea, where trial dates months into the future were kicked around among the court and lawyers. The additional delays were too much for the aggrieved mother, who started making noise in the courtroom.
Judge Rea remarked, “I don’t know who that is,” indicating the alleged victim and his mother. “What’s your problem?” asked the judge. After the mother identified herself and her son as the victims, Judge Rea proceeded to deliver a rather condescending lecture. Listen to the full exchange above.
The mother explained, “We’ve been dealing with this for four and a half years, your honor. Four and a half years. And it’s been constant delays and pushbacks.”
“There’s a bunch of cases on the list. Both these lawyers have a pretty busy calendar. What we’re trying to do now, is get a firm date. Is that a problem?” asked the judge.
The victim’s mother said that it was a problem: “We were supposed to be here in June, and now we’re going to October. Initially, it was going in 2020 and that’s where we feel like we’re going to end up. All I’m asking for is fairness for this case. Please. Please.”
Rea instructed the woman to take her complaints to the prosecutor’s office instead of addressing them in court, remarking, “you’re being inappropriate,” and directing her as follows: “Keep your mouth shut, sit down.”
When prosecutors attempted to explain—saying that the mother’s remarks had been fueled by her frustration–the judge shot back, “yeah, well I’m getting a little frustrated too,” indicating that the court had received phone calls and letters about the case.
The judge was blunt in placing blame for the delays: “I don’t make plea offers, ma’am. The prosecutor’s office does.”
The mother told NJ Advance Media she knows she was in the wrong, but also said she was hurt by the judge’s response and fearful the trial will not be fair. “This is why victims don’t come forward,” she said.
[Image via Alex Staroseltsev/Shutterstock]