A former therapist at a New Jersey private school who admitted having a sexual relationship with a student has permanently lost her counseling license, authorities said.
Tara Cardinale, 39, of Washington Township, agreed to the permanent revocation of her state license as part of her guilty plea to criminal sexual contact with a student who was under the age of 18 while she served as his primary therapist, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Wednesday.
“The grave professional consequences this social worker faces are proof of our determination to protect the public, and the integrity of the vast majority of mental health professionals who work tirelessly for their clients every day,” Grewal said.
Prosecutors did not say where Cardinale worked when she was charged in January, but court records obtained by NJ.com identified the school as New Alliance Academy in Paramus.
Prosecutors said Cardinale, who pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, exchanged text messages with the 17-year-old student and discussed a possible sexual relationship with him, NorthJersey.com reported.
The teen — identified by authorities only as “A.L.” — also told police he went to Cardinale’s home on two occasions, the outlet reported.
Cardinale did not let the teen inside during one visit, prosecutors said, but the pair kissed by her door. The teen also told police he groped the woman, NorthJersey.com reported.
Cardinale invited the teen inside during a second visit, but he left the residence when his mother told him police were at their home looking into his contact with the therapist.
The teen told cops he thought the pair would have had sex that evening if not for his mother’s intervention.
Cops in Paramus first learned about the meetings in December, prosecutors said.
“This licensee 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 ethic and professional standards,” Grewal said.
New Alliance Academy in Paramus is a high school for teen students with “acute psychological distress,” according to its website.
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