SPARTA — A science teacher at a Catholic high school in the township has been accused of taking hundreds of “upskirt” videos and photos of female students, as well as having a stash of child pornography.

Michael F. Wagner, 39, of Hopatcong, was arrested on Monday, Acting Sussex County Prosecutor Annmarie Taggart announced, roughly a week after an investigation was launched.

Wagner is a teacher at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta.

The prosecutor said on Oct. 12, a fellow teacher overheard several 8th grade female students talking about their teacher, Wagner, recording them during class.

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Sparta police responded to the school and found “hundreds” of videos and pictures of numerous female students, taken by an electronic device positioned to record the underwear of girls wearing the school’s uniform skirts.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Paterson said they received a report the night of Oct. 11 of “alleged inappropriate conduct” by Wagner and submitted that information to Taggart’s office on Oct. 12.

Wagner’s personal electronic devices were also found to have evidence that he possessed, viewed or had under his control “less than one thousand” items showing the sexual exploitation or abuse of children, Taggart continued.

He has been charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree possession of child sexual abuse material and third-degree invasion of privacy.

Pope John Regional High School, Sparta (Google Maps) science teacher NJ accused of child pornography possession upskirt photos videos of girl students
Pope John Regional High School, Sparta (Google Maps)
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Cooperating fully

Wagner was immediately suspended, banned from access to or presence at any school property or function and told not to have any contact with his students, the diocese spokesman continued.

On Wednesday, Wagner was being held in Sussex County jail, pending a detention hearing.

He had been in full compliance with all Diocesan protocols, including undergoing a fingerprint background check as required by the state Dept. of Education.

The Diocese of Paterson and Pope John XXIII Regional High School continue to cooperate fully with the prosecutor's office.

Anyone with potential information about Wagner can contact Detective Brian Hassloch of the Sparta Police Department at 973-726-4067 or the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit at 973-383-1570.

A Linkedin profile for Wagner has listed previous employment at Byram Public Schools, between 2010 and 2016, and a stretch of time at Reverend George Brown School, a Catholic elementary school also in Sparta.

Average SAT scores for all NJ high schools, 2020-21

Average SAT scores for the 2020-2021 school year are listed by county, from highest to lowest. Data includes the combined score, as well as the average scores on the math and reading/writing sections.

Participation rates show the share of 12th graders in the Class of 2021 who took the SAT in 2020-21 or in prior years.

High schools aren't listed if there is no data or the number of students participating was low enough that average scores were not publicly reported to protect student privacy.

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