A dean at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark has been arrested and charged with attempted luring of a minor in Harrison, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said.
On Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Harrison Police Department arrested Didier Jean-Baptiste, 54, of Jersey City, and charged him with one count of luring by attempt, a second-degree crime and attempted endangering the welfare of a child a third-degree crime.
Jean-Baptiste was arrested without incident at his residence in Jersey City, transported to the Harrison Police Department and released on a summons based on the recommendation of a risk assessment tool, in accordance with bail reform.
Jean-Baptiste is tentatively scheduled to appear in court on Monday, Oct. 24.
Suarez says an initial investigation determined Jean-Baptiste, the school’s dean of seniors and college placement, and also a 1986 alumnus of the school, arranged to meet an individual, who he believed to be a teenager, for sex in Harrison. The crimes did not involve any students at St. Benedict’s, Suarez said.
St. Benedict’s, meanwhile, says it’s since fired the dean and has stripped most, if not all, references to him from its website and social media accounts.
“Early this morning, we were made aware of inappropriate conduct off of school property involving an adult lay member of the St. Benedict’s Prep community,” the school said in a statement posted to Facebook. “This event did not involve any St. Benedict’s students. Immediate action was taken to terminate the employment of this individual as well as ensure law enforcement was apprised. Though no current or former students were involved, and the event did not occur on school grounds, an internal investigation has already begun.
“The welfare and safety of our students is central to the mission of St. Benedict’s. All adults at St. Benedict’s are annually required to participate in programs designed to identify and immediately address warning signs of harassment of any kind. These programs have drastically reduced the possibility of any such conduct occurring on school property without our knowledge and immediate action.
“Counseling services are available to any student, faculty or staff member in need of support. Since the investigation is ongoing, we will have no further comment at this time.”
The arrest comes after an online sex-predator catcher — perhaps “vigilante” would be the proper word to use here — posed as a 14-year-old boy — and instead of meeting a boy (it was a decoy), he met this bloke whose organization is called New Jersey Predator Intervention. The man filmed the confrontation and placed it on Youtube and called police. The video is embedded here. Viewer discretion is advised.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.