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sexual assault
Stephen Yekel. PHOTO COURTESY ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

A Montclair elementary school custodian has been arrested and charged with sexual assault against a minor.

Stephen Yekel, 47, was arrested on Jan. 24 and charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, said Essex County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Katherine Carter.

Between October 2016 and October 2018 Yekel, a Lake Hiawatha resident, allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the female victim on several different dates. The incidents took place in various locations, beginning when the victim was 14 and continuing until she was 16, Carter said.

Yekel is listed as the head custodian at Northeast School, according to the staff directory on the district’s website. District officials would not comment on whether Yekel is still employed with the district at this time.

The prosecutor’s office did not specify where the victim lived in order to protect her privacy. But in a statement from the district to Northeast parents, Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker said the victim was not from Montclair.

Carter said that the investigation has not identified any other victims in the matter.

On Jan. 29, Parker sent a letter to Northeast families concerning the investigation.

“In consultation with the Montclair Police Department, I can provide you with the following information. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office conducted an investigation, which involved a Northeast School employee. The alleged victim has no connection to Montclair Public Schools. There are no other Montclair Public Schools students or staff involved in this investigation. At no time were any Montclair Public Schools students or staff in any danger.”

Parker referred all questions on the matter to the prosecutor’s office.

Yekel has been in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility since Jan. 24. A detention hearing is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3, in Essex County Superior Court before Judge Ronald Wigler.

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