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Fifth-Grade Teacher Charged with Sex Assault of 10-Year-Old Student

West Orange teacher Chris Yonitch, 36, of Livingston was arrested Thursday morning.

A fifth-grade West Orange teacher was arrested Thursday morning on charges of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to officials at the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. 

Christopher Yonitch, 36, of Livingston, has been a teacher at Washington School in West Orange for nine years, the prosecutor's office said. 

According to officials, the child is a 10-year-old student of Yonitch.

Check for updates on this breaking news story. 

Adam Kraemer February 09, 2013 at 11:13 PM
@ David Peat - We as taxpayers sehll out a lot of money for extensive supervision of the teachers that are employed in the West Orange Public Schools. I find it problematic that supervisior did not pick up on this problem before it could happen. So yes this is an other valid reason for the public to have a serious trust problem with the the current school board and the current adminstration. School official be held accountable for this.
gloria rojas February 10, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Yo no creo lo que esta pasando.mi hija estudia en la washinton school y yo siempre vi a mister yonitch como una persona muy dedicado a sus estudiantes y sin nada de maldad en sus ojos y accionnes
gloria rojas February 10, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Espero que todo esto sea una mentira por la nina y el profesor.
Gary Englert February 10, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Adam Kraemer: Your expounding on just another subject in which your reach exceeds your grasp is again manifest...and the suggestion that anyone could or should have "pick(ed) up" on some yet proven behavior is simply the antithesis of all logic and rational thinking. While not to prejudge and suggest that Mr. Yanitch qualifies for such labels, you'd also do well to do a bit of reading on the subject of sexual predators, pederasts and pedophiles,who generally ply their trade so covertly and deviously that they resist detection for considerable periods of time. Neither a school administration, nor a Board of Education, can engage in some ill conceived witch hunt toward rooting out such evil among its employees but, can and does react (and properly does so) when presented with the requisite justification. Your anti-school board/administration rhetoric is, however, duly noted...again.
Jack February 10, 2013 at 02:17 AM
I agree... if you know Chris, there's an explanation for this, and it's not pedophilia.
Cynthia Cumming February 10, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Oh hi, Wohovoice. Long time no talk. For a reason. There's no point posting anything when creepy anonymous stalkers like you exist. I have a real name and people know where to reach me. And as for Mr. Yonitch, it is the hope of everyone at the food pantry that this situation is resolved for both him and the family and that justice prevails.
PCFB February 10, 2013 at 05:13 AM
My son is very sad for Mr. Yonitch. He is a great teacher. He cares about his students. Is hard to believe that accusations. We are praying for both families.
emiliac February 10, 2013 at 02:56 PM
Good people do bad things. We all know the one about 'blah, blah, blah, cast the first stone! To dismiss a child, a potential victim of such horrible crime, with out waiting for the outcome of the investigation is incomprehensible. Fortunately, there is a state child protective agency that investigates such ALLEGATIONS. The problem here is the media who omit the word allegedly/alleged from their stories, as well as judgmental adults too quick to accused the probable victim of lieing, which is why victims so often fail to report! Why are suspects tried in the media? By the same token a responsible adult, not so invested in an adult male teacher, might comment, I believe this man will be vindicated rather than to call a vulnerable child a liar! Especially an adult parent, less is expected from a parent in his/her teens. And to Gloria R, How do you know the victim is a niña/girl and not a niño/boy? What we should esperar/wait for es justicia/justice!
David Peart February 10, 2013 at 07:04 PM
@Adam Kraemer, Feel free to enlighten us as to these details of the expensive "supervision" that was supposed to prevent "accusations." Maybe you know different, but thus far all we have is an accusation and very little in the way of details that substantiate that allegation either way. As for what you describe as the failure of the supervisor to "pick up on this problem before it could happen," I was also unaware that psychic abilities were a prerequisite for WOBOE management personnel. Even the law enforcement community has yet to come up with a method to preemptively address accusations that have yet to be lodged, so you might want to share that revelation with them. Your lack of trust with the current school board and administration appears to be rooted in the fact that they justifiably don't take you seriously. Prior to there being a conviction for an actual crime, what exactly might the BOE board and administration be held accountable for? These attempts to glean political mileage out of every incident speaks much more of your character than it does their competence.
veronica February 10, 2013 at 08:30 PM
I heard about DYFES from someone in the. School that works there and when I heard abt it that's when I knew that it. Must be a lie! I just feel bad cause even if he is cleared from all of this his life will never be. The same! Is. So sad for someone to ruin someones. Life again! Hope he's doing well wish him the best off luck!
emiliac February 10, 2013 at 09:35 PM
There is no DYFS, the new name is the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Regardless of the name; What should we do when a child alleges to have had an appropriate interaction with a teacher, member of the clergy or any adult? Pool the adults who superficially know the teacher/clergy/dog catcher (nobody really knows someone) and determine how to proceed or not proceed. After all, individuals can just feel it in their bones when something is awry. Quite possibly, this might end false convictions in the future's. In the interim, for some ADULTS, vilifying the alleged victim is fine.
Veronica Simon February 11, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I read that the child made up the story
veronica February 11, 2013 at 02:36 AM
I don't care what ignorant people have to say! I know he is a very nice guy! All the kids I spoke too about the situation they don't believe it!
Mary February 12, 2013 at 04:31 PM
Mary I have a chlid in his class and he was always a caring teacher, one of the best teachers in washington. What is most upsetting as parents is that a good teacher has been taken away from our kids based on allegations made by a troubled kid, and yes I also do know the family in question and it was obvious since a couple of years back that this child needed help everyone in that school knows what the truth is but are not allowed to say anything. I just hope that when the truth comes out the child will get the help that she really needs and before you start accusing an innocent man you first have to know the whole story, all of the kids in his class know the truth maybe the authorities should start by asking them and they will get a clearer picture of this whole mess
john anthony prignano February 12, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Mary People saying that Mr. Yonitch is a great teacher is a fine and noble gesture,but it has nothing to do with what he's charged with. Also, accusing the accuser before all the facts are in doesn't help Mr. Yonitch's situation one bit. Mr. Yonitch is innocent until and if he's proven guilty. And I strongly disagree with people who write " Even if Mr. Yonitch is found innocent of all the charges, his career and reputation are ruined. " Not as far as I'm concerned. As far as I'm concerned, If it's proven in a court of law that he did nothing wrong, his career and reputation will remain intact. I would not object if my child were assigned to his class.Terms like "There is a presumption of innocence " and "innocent of all charges" must be more than vapid cliches,they must mean something. ANYONE can be falsely accused. Are there people who really believe it couldn't happen to them? Expressions like "Where there's smoke there's fire" or "The accused must have done SOMETHING ". are nothing more than baseless. banalities often employed by cynics..Mr. Yonitch is afforded a presumption of innocence. If he's found innocent by the courts on a Friday, Monday morning he should be standing at the front of his classroom..
john anthony prignano February 12, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Adam WHAT problem ? Mr. Yonitch is innocent until and if he's proven guilty.You write "I find it problematic that supervisor did not pick up on this problem before it could happen. How do you pick up on a problem before there's a problem, especially when there might not be any problem in the first place? As of today, there is no proof that a "problem" has occurred. Minority Report starring Tom Cruise as an officer who arrests people for crimes they're GOING to commit was not a documentary, it was a science - fiction movie. Englert always writes about the accused that no matter the outcome, the accused person's career and reputation remain irreparably damaged. Not as far as I'm. concerned . As far as I'm concerned , someone who is found innocent in a court of law has their career and reputation still intact . We believe in a presumption of innocence, but after the person is fully exonerated by the courts, they will be regarded as damaged goods for the rest of their lives.Why is that? Presumed innocent, found innocent, forever tainted ?? ANYONE can be accused of ANYTHING, and for no apparent reason. Expressions like " Where there's smoke there's fire" and "The accused must have done something" are nothing more than vapid banalities, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing ." If Ms. Depalo is found innocent of all charges by the courts on a Friday, Monday morning she should be back at the front of her classroom., and I wouldn't object if I had a child in her class. .
john anthony prignano February 12, 2013 at 10:30 PM
emiliac Great letter. You have my admiration and respect.
Bart February 13, 2013 at 09:03 PM
And your pathetic attempt to stir the pot is noted. When a post like that would not have been allowed on your little "discussion" board.
Alex Sohn February 13, 2013 at 10:10 PM
While I can't speak for RH, having visited the link I took the comment to be a tongue-in-cheek swipe at cbslocal, as in "Mr. Yonitch has a rather extensive collection of neck ties - oh my!" The cbslocal article mentioned Chris rewarding kids in class with candy and his neck tie collection, neither of which has anything to do with the allegations.
Ryan February 13, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Bart, you can hardly blame Raymond if Patch has no standards! (Witness the childish personal attacks, like yours, that it permits.) Actually I'm sure that post would have been allowed on the Watercooler, too. Obviously, as Alex says, Raymond's making fun of empty alarmist local TV journalism. I fail to see what's objectionable about that. You clearly have some personal issues with Raymond that I would recommend you get past.
Marie Short February 14, 2013 at 03:32 PM
Children from troubled families are exactly who pedophiles choose as victims, so let's not discount the allegations just because of the victim's background. It is also important for kids to know they will be believed when they tell an adult about molestation, so if this teacher's story comes up with your kids it is important to make it clear to them that you will believe them. Hopefully he did not do these things, and he is of course inncont until priven guilty, but if he did do them we should be glad that a) someone spoke up and b) nobody has covered anything up like at PennState.
john anthony prignano February 15, 2013 at 12:42 AM
wohopeful As of this post, NOBODY has been found guilty of anything. Do you agree with me that everyone is innocent until proven guilty?
ljnace February 20, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Friends, neighbors, and family are the last to know.
ljnace February 20, 2013 at 02:04 PM
This is one sicko, wow !!!
Simon March 03, 2013 at 03:43 AM
praying for this .teacher i believe that he will be proven innocent if he not guilty. THe school has camera everywhere, so it will not be difficult to prove.
shar bigger March 03, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I just found out about this...it is just a sad sad story....you can never foresee what goes on in the mind of a person...no one can predict the actions of anyone..but I hope this is not something he would have done in the midst of his mind being clouded with bad judgement......one mistake can be life changing....as teachers we must be careful of caring...never be alone with a student always be on guard and aware of the potential outcomes, leave doors open, others are present, involve others like the school social worker, principal, VP, family, community, use the whole village to protect ourselves and our children so that we avoid circumstances like this.
Rocci Martin March 09, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Heather, are you his partner and you have children, two daughters?.....does he have a good relationship with them....if I'm wrong so be it....your words sound very contradictive.....that statement sounds like you really DON'T know him...this is quite disturbing and hard to believe as the seemingly girlfriend, one could see you taking this so personal...so what happens if he is found guilty...will you still be there for him...it is obvious what you will do if he is proven innocent.....
Heather Detmar March 10, 2013 at 03:30 AM
@Rocci Martin no im not his girlfriend, mistress, or lover. I am a parent of 5 children 2 of which he knows well. Everyone is entitled to their opnions, im sorry that you feel just because im defending him i must be sleeping with him. Cant believe that is the road you taking, but its fine really dont care what anyone thinks of me or my comments. I will continue to be on his side because I know this is a lie.
Joel Malkin March 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Good for you, Heather! I also believe he is innocent. We can believe what we want until the facts come out.
Adam Kraemer December 28, 2013 at 09:30 AM
The grand jury issued a no bill so we have to assume he is innocent. This guys name has been dragged thru the mud and he did not do it.

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