NJ student-teacher charged with trading child porn online

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A student teacher at a New Jersey high school has been charged with trading images and videos of child pornography online, prosecutors said.

Matthew Natale, 22, of Evesham, was charged Tuesday with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child and tampering with evidence for possessing and distributing child sex abuse images and videos, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office announced Friday.

An investigation into Natale, who worked at Middletown South High School, was launched after a tip was sent into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, prosecutor Scott Coffina said.

“The investigation revealed that Natale was using email to trade images and videos of pre-pubescent boys,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Natale, who could not be reached for comment Monday, was released from custody following his initial court appearance last week.

A judge barred him from using a smartphone or accessing the internet unless he’s attending college classes online or searching for a job, Coffina said.

Natale was also prohibited from having unsupervised contact with children and is no longer allowed to work as a student teacher at the Monmouth County school, where his employment was terminated following the charges, district officials said.

Natale was hired as a student teacher at the school in fall 2020, according to a personnel report cited by the Asbury Park Press. Middletown Township Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ellen Walker said Natale has been barred from returning to the campus since his arrest.

Robert Chestnut was also charged with possession of child pornography amid the “Operation Safe Quarantine” program.
Robert Chestnut was charged with endangering the welfare of a child amid the “Operation Safe Quarantine” program.
Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office

The allegations did not involve any “students, staff or the community” connected to the school, Walker told the newspaper.

“The district takes the safety and security of our school community very seriously,” Walker said in an email. “Upon being informed of this matter, we took immediate action to ensure that this individual is no longer permitted on district premises and that his student teaching assignment was terminated.”

Natale was also reportedly attending Monmouth University.

Prosecutors also announced charges against a second New Jersey man, Robert Chestnut, 68, of Shamong, as part of its ongoing “Operation Safe Quarantine” investigation, which targets alleged online child predators during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirty people have been charged in the ongoing investigation dating back to May, Coffina said.

Chestnut was charged Wednesday with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly searching for and viewing images of pre-pubescent girls on his laptop and other digital devices.

Chestnut was released following his first court appearance last week, Coffina said.

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