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Ex-Pleasantville High teacher gets probation for sex with 18-year-old student

A former Pleasantville High School was sentenced to probation in a case where she had a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student.

It’s was a “perfect storm” of mental health issues, medication that didn’t work and alcohol to self medicate that led Jessica Gaeckle’s actions more than four years ago, defense attorney Steve Scheffler told the judge.

Gaeckle, now 33, was an English as Second Language teacher when she was arrested March 1, 2018.

She entered Alcoholics Anonymous 17 days later, Scheffler said. Since then, she has repaired her marriage, is a role model to her two daughters and “has become a leader in the recovery community.”

“The woman that entered that storm is not the same woman that sits here today,” he added.

While the victim was not a minor, Gaeckle was charged with official misconduct due to her supervisory role over the teen. She had to forfeit public employment under the plea agreement.

The Galloway Township woman did not plead to a sex crime.

Scheffler said Gaeckle has redefined herself and now is well-respected at her job, where she works with law enforcement and first-responders.

“I’m beyond embarrassed and apologetic to the damage to the victim and my own family,” Gaeckle told the judge. “It’s been a long road and on that road I have taken measures to correct behaviors.”

Several letters were submitted to the court attesting to Gaeckle’s character. Scheffler read one from an AA member who met her at his first meeting and credited the former teacher with saving his life along with others in the program.

“Her commitment to AA is unmatched,” he wrote.

If Gaeckle completes probation without issues, she can avoid a 120-day jail sentence the could be imposed as a condition of her supervision.

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