MAYS LANDING – A Buena Regional High School teacher who had a sexual relationship with one of his students has been sentenced to five years in prison.
A Superior Court judge on Friday also barred 33-year-old William J. Jacobs from any future public employment and his teaching certification will be revoked, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office said.
“The consequences the defendant faced today for his actions in engaging in a wholly unacceptable relationship with his student is one of his own making,” Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said. “He was her teacher and he should have known better.”
Jacobs, a Folsom resident who also was an assistant wrestling coach at the school, pleaded guilty in June to official misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. He must serve at least two years behind bars before he can be eligible for parole.
Authorities say the gym teacher and student had sexual relations at least twice between November 2016 and January 2017, and also exchanged hundreds of electronic communications.
Jacobs also urged the victim not to cooperate with state police after learning he was under investigation in February, authorities said.
Jacobs’ legal troubles aren’t over. He’s a defendant in an ongoing federal lawsuit filed by the teenage victim that also seeks compensation from the Buena Regional Board of Education and several district employees, alleging they failed to take steps that would’ve protected her from Jacob’s predatory actions.
The student’s lawsuit alleges she and Jacobs had oral sex on two occasions in a vehicle parked outside a Williamstown bar.
As detectives built a criminal case against Jacobs earlier this year, he and another teacher at the school encouraged the girl to deny the allegations, according to the suit. Jacobs offered the teen money and marijuana in hopes that it would buy her silence, the suit said.
After Jacobs’ arrest, according to the lawsuit, the student was subjected to harassment at school and even stripped of her honor society title in an act of retribution. She is now being home-schooled with plans to graduate in December.
Tyner, the prosecutor, indicated Friday’s sentencing may help the victim’s healing process.
“Today’s sentencing brings some measure of closure to a young woman and her family,” he said.