Four local teens arrested in alleged sexual assault
Allegedly forced 17-year-old girl to perform act at school, and recorded it
by Marilyn Baer
Reporter Staff Writer
Dec 24, 2017 | 1937 views | 0 0 comments | 105 105 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, four teens were charged on Nov. 30 for involvement in an incident that day in which some or all of them allegedly forced a 17-year-old girl into a room at the school, and allegedly forced her to perform a sex act. The incident was reportedly caught on school video tape and on a student’s cellphone.

Amir D. Goodwin, age 18, of Hoboken, was first charged on Nov. 30 with one count of endangering the welfare of a child (possession of child pornography, in connection with the cell phone recording), one count of endangering the welfare of a child, one count of criminal sexual contact, and one count of criminal restraint. Then, on Dec. 12, he was additionally charged with one count of aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault.

Goodwin was released on Dec. 19 following a detention hearing in Superior Court.

Investigators did not release the names of the other students because they are under 18. A 17-year-old juvenile is charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and kidnapping.

The two 16-year-old juveniles were charged with one count each of conspiracy to commit aggravated sexual assault, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and aggravated criminal sexual contact.

All three juveniles were released with conditions and their cases are pending in Family Court.

CBS News posted a segment on Wednesday quoting the victim, a junior at the school, as saying the boys (allegedly) pushed her into a storage closet when she was heading to her next class. She said that she told them "no" and tried to scream, but they pulled her shirt above her head and pulled her pants and bra down.

She said she had told a school official in the past that she had had problems with the boys.

She said she has been homeschooled since the incident.

Attorney: ‘all over the place’

Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a press release issued on Wednesday, “There will be a thorough investigation of this case, which is deeply disturbing on so many levels; the ages of all the alleged individuals involved, the acts alleged, and the brazenness of where they took place. We will continue to investigate and will certainly prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”

Goodwin’s attorney, Adrienne D. Edward, said in a phone interview on Thursday, “ He is not the person that received the sexual act and I want that to be clear.”

Edward said that Goodwin was a star player on the Hoboken High School football team and was looking forward to playing basketball next year, and perhaps being scouted by colleges. Now, that won’t happen.

“He has only been an adult for two months,” she said. “He turned 18 in September.”

She said he is still a teen high school student with the same thought processes as his peers, but that because he turned 18, his picture is “all over the place.”

She added that he and the three minors involved are all continuing their school through home instruction, which does not allow for participation in after school extracurricular activities.

She said her client’s next court date will be Jan. 29 at Superior Court in Jersey City.

Letter to district families

While the incident happened in November, it was only made public after the news broke late on Tuesday night on News 12 New Jersey. Wednesday morning, various news crews came to the school, seeking comment.

School officials did not respond, but sent out an email to district families late on Wednesday afternoon.

"As you may be aware, news reporters have been outside of Hoboken High School regarding an alleged incident that took place on November 30, 2017," states the message. "Hoboken High School is not aware of all of the specifics related to this allegation or the investigation, and is therefore not in a position to speculate nor to make announcements or statements."

The email states that the victim reported the incident to a counselor, who then immediately brought her to the principal and Hoboken Police Department School Resource Officer. The Hoboken Police Department then contacted the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

"We ask that judgments be withheld, due to the fact that the investigation is not complete and that the accuracy of facts reported by the news cannot be verified…Each of the students involved in this incident is a member of our school community," states the email. "We have a legal obligation to protect privacy."

The email further states that the high school takes the allegations seriously and "assures families that the school environment is safe and conducive to learning."

It adds that the school administration has reviewed processes and protocols and will deliver educational programs for both the students and families on topics related to the allegation.

"Hoboken High School has a comprehensive School Based Youth Services Center and qualified staff continue to be available for all students who have questions, need support, or are in need of processing information," said the release.

In an email to The Reporter later in the week, Schools Superintendent Dr. Christine Johnson clarified that the education program “is being developed by Principal Piccapietra, in conjunction with the High Schools School Based Youth Services Center. Topics will be forthcoming by the school.”

Johnson also responded to a rumor that the high school principal held an informal “pastries with the principal” to discuss the incident with parents and guardians.

“Pastries with the Principals and/or Guidance Counselors, and other principal meetings, are in full swing,” said Johnson in her email. “They were not announced to address the alleged incident. Rather, the high school principal did add an agenda item if any parents had questions. The principal’s response was brief and vetted by the BOE attorney, in order to ensure the privacy of any and all parties involved. Parents and guardians, as well as students at Hoboken High School, have been extremely respectful of this.”

“Again I would like to reiterate that Hoboken High School has taken direction regarding communication from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office,” wrote Johnson. “The alleged incident and investigation is being conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office, not Hoboken High School. Therefore, the school is not in position to speculate, nor make announcements.”

Starting this past September, Hoboken High School was separated from the middle school.

The two schools were both located in the same building at 800 Clinton St. While in the same building a handful of alleged incidents occurred including the alleged assault of a 12-year-old girl by an older boy at the school in 2016.

In May of 2016, a Hoboken High School student allegedly fondled a 12-year-old seventh grader in a school elevator.

Days later, the 16-year-old boy was arrested and charged with criminal sexual contact and unlawful imprisonment in connection with the incident. The crime was defined as touching an “intimate part” over the girl’s clothing

Asking why

A follower of the Reporter’s Twitter account (@hudson_reporter) questioned why public safety officials did not make the public aware of the alleged sexual assault and November arrests, until news broke on TV last week.

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s office did not respond to the question by press time Friday.

Marilyn Baer can be reached at marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

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