|Teacher Detained on House Arrest
By Joseph Gidjunis
May 1, 2008
LUMBERTON — Dressed in a faded Philadelphia Eagles sweatshirt and shorts, Joseph Macanga stood in his doorway Wednesday -- an electronic monitor fastened to his left ankle bulging through a white tube sock.
Macanga said he couldn't talk about his case, but he thanked those who have brought him food and not ostracized him from the community he calls home.
A week ago Macanga, Lumberton Middle School's 2003 "Educator of the Year," was arrested at his township home and charged by the FBI with possessing child pornography.
The school district suspended him without pay last Thursday, and a substitute teacher has taken over his classes until the end of the school year, school spokeswoman Betsy Kapulskey said.
Macanga's former social studies and language arts students, meanwhile, no longer see his handwriting on the blackboard, pictures of the girls' basketball and soccer teams he coached on the wall or the hieroglyphic art from past students decorating his classroom.
"(The students) don't want to see all of his things disappear at once, and it upset them that everything would be gone," said Kapulskey. "Some of the kids really miss him. What we're trying to do is slowly remove his personal items."
The FBI took Macanga into custody the morning of April 23 and held him in lieu of a $100,000 bond.
Now out on bail, a U.S. Magistrate judge placed the 10-year township teacher under house arrest with electronic monitoring.
In response to Macanga's arrest, about 50 parents and school officials gathered Monday night to discuss how to talk with their children about child pornography.
"There are no right answers for parents or staff," Superintendent Frank Logandro said in a statement. "There is no way to explain this away. It's troubling, it's sad, it's difficult to understand."
According to the criminal complaint, Macanga admitted using his home computer to send and receive child pornography. No local students were involved, officials said.
Macanga, a former priest with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, graduated from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., and was ordained in 1986. He voluntarily left active ministry in 1995 with no indication of child pornography or anything similar in his files, according to a statement from the archdiocese.
While at home, Macanga can't use a computer. He is prohibited from visiting younger family members unless a third-party is present and is not allowed to be employed around children, said U.S. Attorney Jimmy Kitchen.
If convicted, Macanga faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A plea agreement or indictment is expected in the next 90 days, Kitchen said.
Outside his Torrington Court home Wednesday, the cul-de-sac buzzed with the laughter of children playing and grown-ups working in their yards.
In the doorway, Macanga declined to speak specifically about the pending case, but acknowledged the experience as a "difficult time."
After a brief encounter with his visitor, Macanga ended the conversation and closed the door.
Reach Joseph Gidjunis at (856) 486-2604 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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