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Butler Schools 'Cooperating' in Sex Assault Probe

Former assistant high school track coach accused of having sexual relationship with athlete.

The superintendent said Saturday the district will continue to cooperate with authorities after a former assistant track coach at the high school has been accused of having a on his team in the mid-'90s.

Jason Fennes, 37, of Bloomfield, was charged on Thursday with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child for the alleged relationship that began when the girl was 14 and lasted for "several years," according to an arrest affidavit on file with the Morris County Court.

"It is our understanding that this is both a personnel issue and ongoing legal investigation. To that end, any comment beyond this statement will not be appropriate," Butler Superintendent Mario Cardinale said.

"We do wish to indicate that the Butler Public School District has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with any and all law enforcement requests for that cooperation."

Fennes, who has been jailed since March, was also charged on Thursday with two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child less than 13 years of age and two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly assaulting two Montville first-grade students he taught during the 2006-07 school year.

Fennes was originally arrested in March for allegedly sexually assaulting Montville first-grade students he taught in 2005 and during the 2006-07 school year.

Fennes was employed by the Butler Board of Education as an assistant track coach at Butler High from the fall of 1996 until he resigned on April 15, 1997, the Morris County Prosecutor's Office said.

According to an arrest affidavit, Fennes allegedly began a sexual relationship with a freshman member of the track team when she was 14 years old in March 1997. The alleged relationship continued for "several years," the affidavit said.

The alleged encounters often occurred at Fennes' former Parsippany apartment, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, two witnesses also told police they knew the victim began a relationship with Fennes during her freshman year of high school, but were unaware of the alleged sexual encounters.

The latest victims came forward after hearing the charges filed in March against Fennes, who remains jailed with bail set at $500,000 with no 10 percent option.

Fennes, who worked in the Montville School District from September 1998 until he resigned in June 2010, was originally arrested on March 8 on . According to an arrest affidavit filed with the Morris County Court, an investigation revealed Fennes allegedly sexually abused a girl in his Montville first-grade class in 2005.

Fennes was released on bail, but a second student in his class during the 2006-07 school year.

Anyone with information regarding Fennes should contact the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Sex Crimes Unit at 973-285-6200 or the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stopper Program at 973-COPCALL.

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