School Therapist Loses License After Pleading Guilty to Sex with Student

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Bergen County Prosecutor's Office

A school therapist lost her counseling license this week after she pleaded guilty to engaging in a sexual relationship with a student in Bergen County, New Jersey.

“Tara M. Cardinale, 40, who taught at New Alliance Academy in Paramus, agreed to the permanent revocation of her New Jersey license as a condition of her guilty plea in August to criminal sexual contact with a student she counseled,” according to NJ.com.

Investigators say Cardinale invited the 17-year-old to her home in Washington Township several times.

“Police were tipped off to the allegations on Dec. 29 and Cardinale was arrested on Jan. 10,” the NJ.com article said.

Cardinale and the student had reportedly exchanged text messages discussing a possible sexual relationship, Assistant Prosecutor Gary Donatello noted during her detention hearing earlier this year.

The teen, whom authorities identified only as “A.L.,” told police he went to her home twice, according to NorthJersey.com.

The report continued:

On one occasion, she did not allow him inside, Donatello told the court, but the two kissed by her door, and the teen later told police that he groped her. On a separate visit to her home, Cardinale invited the student inside, but he left when his mother alerted him that police were at his home investigating his contact with the counselor. He told authorities he and Cardinale would have had sex that night had he not been pulled away.

“This is not someone who said, ‘Stop — I can’t text with you,'” Donatello told the court in January, adding, “This is not a defendant who said, ‘That’s enough. You need to go home.’ This is a defendant who made out with the victim. This is a threat.”

Cardinale formerly worked as a clinical social worker but since her license was revoked, she can no longer practice in New Jersey, according to officials.

In a statement, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said Cardinale “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.”

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