Coach Accused of Assault Suspended by New High School
By Celanie Polanick
Courier News [New Jersey]
December 16, 2006
North Hunterdon-Voorhees High School officials have suspended a physical education teacher who has been charged with sexually assaulting a student at her previous job.
Before she came to North Hunterdon-Voorhees High School, Pamela Balogh, 39, of Bethlehem, Pa., worked at Immaculata High School in Somerville as a physical education teacher and coach.
Balogh was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, fourth-degree criminal sexual contact and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, Somerset County Prosecutor Wayne J. Forrest said. He declined to comment on other details of the investigation.
North Hunterdon High School Principal Michael Hughes said Balogh has been suspended with pay, pending the resolution of the investigation.
She has been employed by the North Hunterdon-Voorhees School District since 2005.
Superintendent of Schools Charles M. Shaddow did not return multiple phone calls.
After her arrest, Balogh was lodged in Somerset County Jail in lieu of bail set at $100,000 cash or bond. Balogh was released Thursday night after bail was posted by a bondsman, jail staff said. As part of her bail, Balogh is not allowed to have contact with the victim or any other students, Forrest said.
The victim, a female, told investigators the sexual assaults began in December 2004 and continued through September 2005. She told authorities that most of the alleged assaults took place in Balogh's office at Immaculata, Forrest said.
Forrest said the girl recently came forward and reported the incidents to Immaculata school officials. The school notified the Diocese of Metuchen, which immediately reported it to authorities, Forrest said.
Balogh began work at Immaculata in the 1991-1992 school year, and held various jobs during her time there, including physical education teacher and coach for girls' basketball, cross country and lacrosse, said Diocese of Metuchen spokesperson Joanne Ward.
Balogh resigned from Immaculata in September 2005. At the time of her resignation, Immaculata Athletic Director Pierce Frauenheim said Balogh left on good terms with the school, its administration and her players.
Frauenheim said Thursday he could not comment and referred queries to the Diocese of Metuchen, which operates the school.
A statement released by the Diocese said officials learned of the allegations Wednesday, and immediately notified the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. The diocese offered "our prayers for the alleged victim, her family, Ms. Balogh, and all others who may be affected by this matter."
Ward said she could not comment on Balogh's resignation from Immaculata as a confidential personnel matter, and deferred comment on the case to the prosecutor's office.
The diocese's policy on sexual abuse allegations, enacted in 2002, both describes internal investigation procedures for dealing with the allegations and requires employees to report the allegations to authorities as soon as they're made.
"It is very aggressive on the whole sexual abuse issue," Ward said. "We were one of the first dioceses to create an Office of Youth and Child Protection."
The office was established in 2003. Allegations go to the director of the office, and are then forwarded directly to the Prosecutor's office, she said.
Diocese policy also mandates criminal background checks for all employees who have contact with minors.
North Hunterdon students interviewed Friday outside the high school said the halls were buzzing with talk of the charges, even though the students said teachers were told to squelch any discussions related to Balogh.
"Obviously, it's going to hurt somebody's reputation when the whole school's talking," said Anne Marie Kane, a junior field hockey player.
Kane said "nobody on the field hockey team believes she did it."
Balogh, a graduate of North Hunterdon High School, was herself a member of the school's girl's basketball team, which won 83 straight games and three consecutive Group III titles.
As a coach at Immaculata, Balogh led the girls' basketball team to a 240-63 record over 12 seasons. Under Balogh's leadership, Immaculata reached the finals of the Somerset County Tournament seven consecutive seasons, including five straight championships from 1998-2002. Overall, the Spartans appeared in the finals 10 times during Balogh's 12 seasons, winning seven times.
As a star undergraduate basketball player at Temple University, Balogh was a record-setter, and is still the university's third all-time scorer, with 1,636 points, 337 assists and 616 rebounds.
She was a hard-nosed player who wasn't afraid to get physical, and was known for her tenacious offense and her skillful perimeter shot, said former coach Linda Hill-MacDonald.
"I had a great deal of respect (for her)," McDonald said. "Pam was a really hard worker. She was a very tough-minded young woman on that basketball court."
Balogh seemed like she might make a good future coach, McDonald said.
"I always thought that she might continue down that avenue, because she was a very, very smart basketball player," she said. "
McDonald said she didn't know much about Balogh's personal life, but Balogh wasn't the kind of person who seemed like she would do anything inappropriate -- "she was a very upstanding young woman," McDonald said.
Staff Writer Brandon Lausch contributed to this article.
Celanie Polanick can be reached at (908) 707-3137, or at email@example.com.
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