MORRISTOWN, NJ – Addressing “technical, legal issues” raised by a defense lawyer, a grand jury on Thursday handed up a new indictment against former Morris Hills School Board President Roger Schneider, who is accused of sexual contact with a minor, said the county prosecutor’s office.
The new indictment is substantially the same as an earlier one, said Morris County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Fred Snowflak. He said Schneider remains accused of “five counts of sexual offenses related to an alleged improper relationship with a minor.”
The 57-year-old Rockaway Township resident, is charged with one count of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. Snowflak said the new charges are the same as those in the first indictment that was handed up last summer.
“Thursday’s indictment supersedes an earlier indictment of Schneider,” said the prosecutor’s office. “A second indictment was necessary to address technical, legal issues raised by the defense, which are now moot.”
Schneider's lawyer, Sharon Bittner Kean, said she discovered that one of the grand jurors had a conflict-of-interest. "What happened is they indicted the case and I ordered a copy of the grand jury minutes," Kean said. "When I read that transcript, I saw there were two grand jurors that indicated they had conflicts of interest. The prosecutor dismissed one but the second one the prosecutor kept on the panel."
Kean said she sought a motion to dismiss the indictment. "Rather than litigate that motion, I think the prosecutor's office realized they had a significant issue with the irregularity in that proceeding" and decided to seek a new indictment, said the lawyer.
She said her client steadfastly asserts he didn't do the crimes for which he is accused. "He absolutely maintains his innocence," Kean said. "This guy's been married for 30 years, has two adult children, served 25 years as a police officer, was a teacher and assistant principal. He's very troubled by the charges and intends on fighting them vigorously."
The grand jury accuses Schneider of purposely committing acts of sexual contact with a 13- to 16-year-old boy between August 2013 and January 2015. “At the time, the minor was living with the defendant in Rockaway Township,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
Schneider’s came under investigation when the teen told somebody about what had taken place, according to authorities. When confronted with the allegations, Schneider “admitted committing acts of contact” with the victim’s “intimate parts,” said the prosecutor's office.“During a subsequent interview by law enforcement, X.X. disclosed acts of sexual contact between Schneider’s hand and X.X.’s genitals," added the prosecutor.
Schneider, a former Clifton police officer, was a Roxbury High School assistant principal at the time he was arrested in April 2015. He was placed on administrative leave by the Roxbury school system. Schneider was also serving as president of the Morris Hills Regional Board of Education, but he stepped-down from the board after the arrest.
Schneider remains free on $100,000 bail, Snowflak said.