Sex Assault Charges Filed Against Sports Academy Owner
Ablaze Baseball and Softball Academy owner accused of having sexual relationship with minor.
A Union County middle school teacher and owner of a Parsippany youth sports academy was arrested last week for allegedly having sexual contact with an underage teenage girl, authorities said.
Robert J. Gervasi Jr., 48, of Bloomfield, was taken into custody in Union Township on Thursday while attempting to meet with a 14-year-old girl, Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow said.
Gervasi was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of second-degree luring, one count of second-degree endangering the welfare of a minor, one count of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.
Gervasi was a teacher at Kawameeh Middle School in Union and owns Ablaze Baseball and Softball Academy on New Road in Parsippany, Romankow said.
The Ablaze Academy website appears to have been taken down.
Patch attempted to call the academy's main phone numbers and received a "not available" message at one and a voicemail message at the other.
Officials said a joint investigation by the Union Police Department and the prosecutor's office found that Gervasi allegedly began having a sexual relationship with a Union County teen. The alleged acts took place in Union County parks earlier this summer and later at Ablaze Academy in Parsippany and at a condominium in Hoboken, Romankow said.
"This kind of foul behavior will not be tolerated," the prosecutor said in a prepared statement. "Rather than being a responsible adult, this teacher robbed a young girl of her childhood innocence.
"He will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The alleged crimes, including those that occurred in Parsippany and Hudson County, will be prosecuted in Union County, according to Romankow.
Gervasi is now being held on $400,000 bail, the prosecutor's office said.
Those with any information on Ablaze Academy or this case are asked to contact Union County Prosecutor's Office Det. Patricia Gusmano, 908-527-4589, or Union Police Det. Lenny DiGenna, 908-851-5000.