Trial begins of Garfield Coach accused of harassing the Bergen County Prosecutor

By Travis Tormey posted in Assault and Threat Crimes on Thursday, October 25, 2012

The trial began yesterday in the Little Falls Municipal Court of the Garfield youth coach who is accused of harassing the Bergen County Prosecutor, John Molinelli. According to the Bergen Record article entitled, “Trial under way in alleged harassment of prosecutor by Garfield coach”:

“A longtime Garfield youth coach who was active in protests after the fatal police shooting of a city teen went on trial Tuesday for allegedly making harassing telephone calls to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli demanding information about the investigation into the shooting.”

The prosecutor testified that the defendant called their office demanding to know the status of the case and what was going to be done. He allegedly “wouldn’t take no for an answer”.

This appears to be an abuse of power by the Bergen County prosecutor. In my opinion, in no way does making phone calls in an attempt to obtain information on a case give rise to the level necessary for a harassment charge. I am not privy to all the facts but from what the article says it does not appear in any way that harassment charges should have been filed in this case.

To prove harassment in New Jersey, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, the State must show any of the following:

§ 2C:33-4. Harassment

Except as provided in subsection e., a person commits a petty disorderly persons offense if, with purpose to harass another, he:

a. Makes, or causes to be made, a communication or communications anonymously or at extremely inconvenient hours, or in offensively coarse language, or any other manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm;

b. Subjects another to striking, kicking, shoving, or other offensive touching, or threatens to do so; or

c. Engages in any other course of alarming conduct or of repeatedly committed acts with purpose to alarm or seriously annoy such other person.

A communication under subsection a. may be deemed to have been made either at the place where it originated or at the place where it was received.

I don’t think that a couple of phone calls made by a concerned citizen and youth coach to the county prosecutor in an attempt to obtain a status update on a case should give rise to a criminal charge for harassment. Hopefully the judge in Little Falls agrees and dismisses these charges after the trial.


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