SPARTA, N.J. — A former Vernon man who worked as an instructor at a school for developmentally disabled adults pleaded guilty to punching an autistic woman after making a racial slur, the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office said today.
Paul Rinaldi (pictured), 24, now of Kearny, pleaded guilty to bias intimidation, a fourth-degree offense, for punching an African-American woman in the stomach at Willowglen Academy in Sparta.
“Do you want to see a gorilla cry?” Rinaldi asked a fellow employee just prior to the unprovoked attack on the 35-year-old victim, police have said. The female staff member who witnessed the attack then reported the incident.
The attack caused the woman to double over and cry, but she did not suffer any serious injuries. The incident occurred about 5 p.m. Sept. 22 in the gym at Willowglen Academy on Gail Court.
As part of a plea bargain agreement, a charge of endangering the welfare of an incompetent person, a disorderly persons offense, was dismissed.
Rinaldi, who was fired from his job after the incident, pleaded guilty Monday before Superior Court Judge N. Peter Conforti, sitting in Newton. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 25.
Willowglen Academy in Sparta provides services to about 50 developmentally disabled people ranging in ages from 21 to their early 50s. Willowglen New Jersey Inc. operates 38 facilities for developmentally disabled people in seven counties.
Friday, January 28, 2011
The Star-Ledger in N.J.:
Posted by BA Haller at 7:27 PM