Ex-coach pleads to sex charge

Photo courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Scott Rubinetti

Photo courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Scott Rubinetti

Former Lyndhurst High School football coach Scott M. Rubinetti has pleaded guilty to two counts of a five-count indictment charging him with having inappropriate relationships with a female student. A spokeswoman for the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said that Rubinetti entered the plea March 4 before Superior Court Judge Patrick Roma, sitting in Hackensack. He was represented by Hackensack attorney Raymond Flood.

Assistant Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi is handling the case for the state.

Rubinetti, 40, of Nutley, pleaded to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl and witness tampering. Under the law, he could face imprisonment for up to 10 years on the sexual assault charge while the tampering charge carries a possible maximum sentence of five years, the spokeswoman said.

Under a plea agreement with the prosecutor’s office, the court dismissed the remaining charges contained in the county indictment, those being child endangerment, having inappropriate contact with the student, and impairing the morals of a minor.

The indictment returned by a Bergen County grand jury July 25, 2012, alleges that on various dates, between Oct. 1, 2009, and March 30, 2010, Rubinetti – while working as a coach and physical education teacher for the Lyndhurst Board of Education – engaged in sexual conduct, including penetration and oral sex, with the girl, who was a Lyndhurst High School senior at the time.

Additionally, the indictment alleges that Rubinetti, “on or about Jan. 18, 2012,” tried to influence the student “… to testify or inform falsely and/or withhold any testimony, information, document or thing ….”

Rubinetti’s contract with the Lyndhurst Board of Education was terminated June 30, 2012, after the board voted not to renew it. He was a non-tenured employee at the time, according to board officials.

The board then named Rubinetti’s predecessor, Joseph Castagnetti, as the new high school football coach and assigned one of several new P.E. teachers to fill Rubinetti’s teaching slot.

During his 3-year tenure, from 2008 to 2010, as the Golden Bears’ head coach, Rubinetti guided the squad to records of 3-7, 3-7, and 9-3, respectively. In his last year, the team made it into the playoffs for the first time in years.

Rubinetti, who remains free on $150,000 bond, faces sentencing April 19 at 9 a.m. before Judge Roma in Hackensack.

– Ron Leir

The Observer Staff