School therapist met with student, 17, for sex before his mum interrupted them

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A school therapist in the United States has pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact with one of her students.

Tara Cardinale, 40, was a youth therapist at the New Alliance Academy in Paramus, New Jersey, before her crimes were uncovered.

Prosecutors said she arranged to have sex with a 17-year-old boy, meeting up with him at her house on two occasions, as well as exchanging lewd text messages.

On one occasion, the boy said he was invited to Cardinale's house where she kissed him by her door and groped her.

When he visited her home again, she invited him inside, but the student said he left after they were interrupted by a phone call from his mother.

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She had rung him to say police were investigating his contact with the therapist.

Cardinale pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact stemming from her arrest in January.

She agreed to have her clinical social worker licence revoked as a condition of her guilty plea in late August.

Under the terms of the Final Consent Order, she is permanently barred from engaging in the practice of social work or applying for a license to practice social work in the state of New Jersey.

Cardinale's licence had been temporarily suspended by the Board of Social Work Examiners since March 5 pending the outcome of the criminal case against her.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said: "This licensee engaged in sexual conduct with a teenager under her professional supervision, not only violating our criminal laws but also committing an appalling breach of basic ethics and professional standards.

"The grave professional consequences this social worker faces are proof of our determination to protect the public and the integrity of the vast majority of mental health professionals who work tirelessly for their clients every day."

Police in Paramus first received a tip that Cardinale was engaging in a sexual relationship with a student under the age of 18 on December 29, 2019.

Following a joint investigation by the Washington Township Police Department and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Cardinale was arrested on January 10.

She was initially charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal sexual contact.

During a detention hearing earlier this year, a prosecutor told the court Cardinale and the victim "sexted" each other and discussed having sex.

The teen told police he would have had sex with Cardinale had he not been interrupted and left her home.

  • Crime
  • Students

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