United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MATTHEW BENJAMIN WEISBERG DAVID ANDREW BERLIN WEISBERG LAW,
Attorneys for Plaintiff Jernee Kollock-Mann.
J. MCGUIRE STATE OF NEW JERSEY OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
DIVISION OF LAW, Attorney for Defendants Robin Morante, Kevin
Kellejan, and Tom DiNunzio.
FILED UNDER SEAL
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
case concerns claims against three investigators at the
Camden County Prosecutor's Office (“CCPO”)
involved in an investigation into allegations of sexual
misconduct by teachers at Triton Regional High School
(“Triton”). Presently before this Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff's
opposition, Plaintiff's Motion to Seal, Plaintiff's
Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply, and Plaintiff's
Amended Motion to Seal. For the reasons expressed below, this
Court will grant Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,
deny Plaintiff's Motion to Seal, deny Plaintiff's
Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply, and grant the Amended
Motion to Seal.
Court bases its recitation of facts on the Defendants'
and Plaintiff's statements of material facts not in
dispute. This Court will note any relevant, disputed fact
April 2012, Plaintiff Jernee Kollock-Mann was a Vice
Principal at Triton. During that time, a Triton student,
R.P., learned that two of her classmates were meeting with
certain Triton teachers off school grounds and were
exchanging sexually explicit text messages. R.P. believed one
classmate was “hooking up” (here, meaning
kissing) with a Triton teacher and the other classmate was
engaging in sexual intercourse with another Triton teacher.
substitute teacher, Dina Galdo (who now goes by her married
name, Dina Tomczak),  met with Principal Catherine DePaul in the
parking lot of the Deptford Mall to relay information about
these potentially inappropriate relationships. As a result of
this revelation, a meeting was held in Principal DePaul's
office between R.P., Principal DePaul, and Plaintiff. This
meeting and the actions taken in response to the information
revealed in the meeting are central to this case.
the meeting, Principal DePaul and Plaintiff questioned R.P.
about her knowledge of the possibly inappropriate
interactions between certain Triton teachers and students.
R.P. was asked to prepare a written statement. R.P. did as
she was asked and prepared a handwritten statement. Plaintiff
has admitted she changed at least one sentence in the
statement to better reflect what she thought R.P. intended to
the meeting with R.P., Plaintiff believed “there was
definitely credible evidence of potential conduct that would
constitute child abuse that DYFS [the New Jersey Division of
Youth and Family Services, which is now known as the New
Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency] should be
aware of” and that DYFS should have been notified.
(Defs.' SOMF ¶ 15 (additions in original).) She also
believed at the time that the local school board's policy
would have required her to immediately report to DYFS if she
had “reasonable cause to believe a pupil has been
subjected to child abuse.” (Defs.' SOMF ¶ 16.)
On this point both sides agree: Plaintiff did not actually
make a report, even though she believed one was appropriate
given the circumstances.
suggests she did not make the report because she asked
Principal DePaul whether she would like her to report it, and
Principal DePaul instructed her to refrain. In her deposition
for this case, DePaul denied she gave this instruction to
Plaintiff. (Defs.' SOMF ¶ 19.) Additionally,
Plaintiff suggests she need not have reported the information
she received because Galdo-Tomczak, not her, was the first
person to receive the information and thus was obliged to
report it. In any event, Plaintiff admits that she never
disclosed to Defendants in her sole interview with them that
others knew about the alleged sexual abuse before her and had
failed to report it.
months later, in August 2012, Principal DePaul informed
others in the school district about the discovery of a large
number of sexually explicit and inappropriate text messages
between students and teachers at Triton. On August 3, 2012,
the Chief of Detectives of the CCPO assigned Defendant Robert
Morante, an investigator with the CCPO, to investigate the
allegations. Defendants Kevin Kellejan and Thomas DiNunzio,
also members of the CCPO, assisted in the investigation.
of their investigation, Defendants interviewed both R.P. and
Plaintiff, among others. Defendant Morante interviewed R.P.
who made several statements concerning Plaintiff. First, R.P.
[L]ike every time I said something [DePaul and Plaintiff]
made it feel like they were just helping me how to write it
but really they were like changing up my statement. . . . And
I just kept saying like I said like I knew stuff was going on
. . . [but] they would try to make it sound like okay, well,
you didn't see it let's just write that.
(Defs.' SOMF ¶ 11.) Second, R.P. stated: “And
[Plaintiff] even said to me back like I kind of knew this was
going on before but then in the statement she was kind of
making it seem like nothing was going on.” (Defs.'
SOMF ¶ 12.)
completing their investigation, Defendants provided the
information they discovered to the prosecutor. Plaintiff
admits “the Prosecutor elected to file three criminal
charges against [her].” (Defs.' SOMF ¶ 29;
Pl.'s SOMF ¶ 29.) Those three charges were: (1) a
failure to make a statutorily-required report regarding
suspected child abuse under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 9:6-8.14,
(2) official misconduct under N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:30-2,
and (3) hindering apprehension or prosecution under N.J.
Stat. Ann. § 2C:29-3. Along with Plaintiff, Principal
DePaul and the teachers allegedly engaging in inappropriate
sexual conduct were also charged with various crimes.
(Defs.' SOMF ¶ 36.) Defendants allege they did not
make the charging decision.
Defendant Morante stated “I don't make charging
decisions. The prosecutor does.” (Defs.' SOMF
¶ 31.) Defendant Kellejan stated he served as a
factfinder, and all the information he finds “is
forwarded to an assistant prosecutor or prosecutors. They
would then discern whether or not somebody had committed a
crime and go forward or not go forward with charges.”
(Defs.' SOMF ¶ 33.) Defendant DiNunzio stated he did
not have input into whether someone should be charged, saying
“We can't say ‘This one should be
charged.'” (Defs.' SOMF ¶ 34.) Although
Plaintiff admitted in her deposition that she has no
information indicating Defendants were involved in the
charging decision, she denies these statements, pointing out
that Defendant Morante signed the summons-complaint filed in
her criminal case.
Plaintiff reached an agreement with the CCPO. She voluntarily
resigned from her then-current position at Black Horse Pike
Regional School District and the CCPO dismissed all charges
against her. Plaintiff denies Defendants'
characterization of this agreement as a plea deal.
brought this case, along with her husband Daryl Mann, on June
29, 2015. Plaintiff brought three claims, one for malicious
prosecution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, one for malicious
prosecution under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act
(“NJCRA” or “N.J. Stat. Ann. §
10:6-2”), and one for loss of consortium. The loss of
consortium claim was dismissed via this Court's February
28, 2017 Order. Discovery ensued. Defendants filed the