Prioli, a father of eight, will be prohibited for the rest of his life from living in a household with minor children
FREEHOLD - A girl’s first kiss should be a special memory, a young woman told a judge on Friday.
"Mine will not be treasured," she said.
That’s because it came, when she was a minor, from a man who was decades older than she, who was supposed to protect her.
"He invaded my privacy, my bed, my body," the young woman told Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano.
The man "taught me to be silent and tolerate the abuse," she said.
The person the young woman was referring to was Joseph Prioli, someone who not only had a close, personal relationship to her, but who also held positions of trust in the larger community. He was a teacher at Christian Brothers Academy in Middletown for 15 years, until 2015, and a deacon at his church.
Now, Prioli, 49, of Howell will spend the next five years at the state Corrections Department’s Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in the Avenel section of Woodbridge, and the remainder of his life on parole and the state’s Megan’s Law registry, under a sentence imposed Friday by Falcetano for child endangerment involving sexual conduct
As a result, Prioli, a father of eight, will be prohibited for the rest of his life from living in a household with minor children, said Thomas Fichter, an assistant Monmouth County prosecutor.
The woman he admitted molesting on multiple occasions between 2004 and 2012, from age 10 through 17, was poised as she spoke to the judge in court.
The Asbury Park Press chose not to identify her because she is a victim of sexual abuse.
She said she came forward to protect Prioli’s children.
Prioli, a teacher and one-time technology director at Christian Brothers Academy, was arrested in December, about a year after he left the school for other employment, Brother Frank Byrne, president of the academy, told the Asbury Park Press at the time. Byrne said then that there had been no reports of any criminal wrongdoing by Prioli while at the school.
Prioli pleaded guilty on Feb. 27 to two counts of child endangerment involving sexual conduct.
Before he was sentenced, Prioli expressed remorse to the judge. "My regret is deep and true," he said. "I am, in fact, horrified by my own actions."
His defense attorney, Sarah Surgent of the Public Defender’s Office, said she submitted a number of letters to the court about Prioli. Some, including one from Prioli’s wife, were in support of him, while others, including two from his sisters, condemned him.
Surgent asked the judge to follow the plea agreement, which called for five years of imprisonment.
Fichter said Prioli "could have faced many, many more years in prison," but the victim agreed to the deal so that Prioli at some point would be able to get out of prison and provide some financial support for his children.
"The defendant is the beneficiary of a very, very lenient plea bargain," Falcetano said, going along with the deal in which other charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact and criminal sexual contact were dismissed.
One of the things that particularly bothered Falcetano about the case, he said, is that Prioli indicated he believes God has forgiven him.
That belief "seems to be a large presumption on your part," Falcetano said to Prioli.
"We’re going to dispose of your earthly sentence today, but you should be sentenced for the rest of your life to having to wonder what your final sentence will be, when that time comes," the judge told him.
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