ELIZABETH, NJ - Nataly Lopez, 27,  a substitute teacher at Elizabeth Middle School No. 3, was arrested and charged with engaging in a sexual relationship with a student, says acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park who made the announcement on Friday.

Lopez  was charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.  

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. 

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The investigation, which was assisted by Elizabeth Police Sgt. Benny Carvalho, revealed that Lopez 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, who is not an employee of Elizabeth Public Schools, but working for a vendor providing substitute teaching services to the district, was arrested without incident at her home Thursday afternoon and lodged in Union County Jail pending a first appearance. 

“The safety of our children is always the Elizabeth Schools’ top priority,” said Olga Hugelmeyer, Elizabeth Public Schools Superintendent. “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.”

Anyone with any additional information about Lopez’s activities is urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Janet Lopez at 908-347-8491. 

Convictions on first-degree crimes are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.