FRANKLIN (Gloucester) — A one-time teacher of the year and JROTC instructor at Delsea Regional turned himself into police Tuesday after being accused of molesting an adult student.

Gloucester County Prosecutor Charles Fiore said that Staff Sgt. James Merritt, 58, touched an 18-old-year old student's "intimate parts" over the clothes during school hours in the ROTC classroom.

Merritt also "utilized his position within the school district to form an inappropriate teacher/student relationship where he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with the student, during both regular school hours and after," Fiore said in a statement.

The Delsea Regional school district has suspended Merritt.

Merritt was released after being charged with official misconduct and criminal sexual contact.

Merritt was named teacher of the year at Delsea Regional High School in 2017, according to a district newsletter, which said he was a minister and was working on his master's degree in family and marriage counseling.

Public records show Merritt earned an annual salary of $72,151 as a science military teacher.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ


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