ELIZABETH, NJ — A substitute teacher at an Elizabeth middle school has been arrested and charged with engaging in a sexual relationship with a student, according to a June 23 press release issued by acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park.
“Nataly Lopez, 27, of School No. 3, is charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child,” reads the press release. An investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit was initiated Wednesday by a referral from the Elizabeth Police Department, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Tomlinson, who is prosecuting the case.
The investigation, which was assisted by Elizabeth Police Sgt. Benny Carvalho, revealed that Lopez allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the student in her vehicle while in Elizabeth at least twice and also exchanged sexually explicit messages with him online over the course of several weeks, Tomlinson said.
Lopez is not an employee of Elizabeth Public Schools; she works for a vendor who provides substitute teaching services to the district. She was arrested without incident at her home Thursday afternoon and lodged in Union County Jail pending a first appearance.
Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent Olga Hugelmeyer issued the following statement on June 23 to LocalSource related to the arrest of Lopez.
“The safety of our children is always the Elizabeth Schools’ top priority,” Hugelmeyer said in the release. “Immediately upon receiving information of inappropriate behavior by a substitute teacher employed by Source4Teachers, the substitute was barred from entering any school. Law enforcement and social service agencies were notified, as was the substitute’s employer. We are grateful for the professional and rapid attention given to the matter by the law enforcement agencies.”
After the arrest, shocked and angry parents took to Facebook denouncing the crime.