AP NEWS

Teacher’s conviction of simple assault on student overturned

May 11, 2019

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) — A former New Jersey teacher has been acquitted of simple assault, overturning a lower court conviction that resulted in forfeiture of her teaching license.

Superior Court Judge John Rauh on Friday overturned last year’s conviction of Kimberley Peschi by a municipal court judge, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

Peschi, 42, of Galloway Township, was accused of kicking a chair as a sixth-grade Belhaven Middle School student leaned back in it, causing him to fall and hit his head in February 2017.

Peschi, who listened silently to Rauh’s decision, declined comment as she left the courtroom. Defense attorney Robert Agre said Peschi was “greatly relieved,” adding that it had been a stressful time for his client, who now works as a real estate agent. He said the state couldn’t appeal the acquittal.

The student’s mother said she was “disgusted and hurt” by the decision, saying surveillance video of the incident “does not lie.”

In his decision, Rauh noted that the contact was only an instant in surveillance footage that lasted less than 20 seconds and was grainy with a blur. Peschi’s testimony that she was trying to right the chair was “plausible,” he said.

“Given the brief period of the time the whole incident took place, I am not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted purposely, knowingly or recklessly with regard to the injury to the child,” he said.

Peschi was suspended from her job, which paid $80,723 per year according to public salary data, after the incident. She was convicted in municipal court in May 2018 and ordered to pay about $200 in fines and court fees. In September, another municipal judge ruled that Peschi must forfeit her public employment, saying she “went well beyond corrective behavior.”

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Information from: The Press of Atlantic City (N.J.), http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com