Sexual contact charges filed against a convicted sex offender accused of spanking and giving "hernia exams" to three adult participants in a Morristown-run drug and alcohol center will be referred to a Morris County grand jury, authorities said Wednesday.
But the criminal charges against 72-year-old Miller Road resident Terence Michael Lynch could be resolved before the grand jury acts if he opts to accept a plea offer.
At Lynch's first hearing in Superior Court, Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Maggie Calderwood said county Prosecutor Michael Rubbinaccio will directly review any plea offer that is extended to Lynch in upcoming weeks.
Lynch -- who was in state prison from 1990 until May 1997 for spanking and fondling male teenagers at a school he ran in Mendham Township -- stood silently beside defense lawyer Peter Gilbreth at Wednesday's minutes-long hearing. He was charged on Dec. 6 with having sexual contact with three men he supposedly was counseling while serving as a volunteer at the Morristown-operated Beginnings Drug and Alcohol Program on Spring Street.
Lynch already entered a plea of not guilty when he appeared for an initial hearing in Morristown Municipal Court after his arrest in December. He has been free on his own recognizance.
Lynch now is wearing an ankle bracelet that keeps state parole authorities apprised of his whereabouts. Though he is not on parole, he was classified upon his release from prison as an offender at the highest risk of committing another sex crime, under Megan's Law. Neighbors were alerted to his release.
This Tier 3 status under Megan's Law made him a candidate to wear an ankle bracelet under the state's new global positioning satellite program to track sex offenders, started on a pilot basis in August. He was supposed to be fitted with the bracelet sometime this spring or summer. But published accounts last week of Lynch's new arrest prompted parole officers to go to his home late Friday to attach the bracelet and give him the transmitter device that enable satellites to track his whereabouts, said Edward Bray, acting deputy executive director of the state Parole Board.
Gilbreth said Lynch did not make a fuss when the bracelet was attached. He is forbidden to take it off.
"He's been very cooperative, but all the publicity has been hard on him," Gilbreth said outside court. "His focus right now is on resolving the case."
The attorney said Lynch lives with his ailing wife, Judy, and that the couple have no children. Lynch's home, assessed at close to $1 million, is up for sale.
Gilbreth said Lynch also has received numerous letters of support from friends, particularly those he knows through church activities. Authorities have said that Lynch is a member of Assumption Church in Morristown and frequently swam or exercised at the gym at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown.
He went to prison for fondling, giving enemas to and paddling boys on their bare buttocks when he ran the now-defunct Chartwell Manor school in Mendham Township. When Lynch was freed in May 1997, his parole officer made the unauthorized decision to refer him to the Beginnings program to start a general equivalency diploma program. His parole ended in September 1998, and Beginnings kept him on as a volunteer before asking him to leave in April for reasons unrelated to the current charges.
There, between 2003 and last March, he allegedly spanked one participant's bare behind as punishment for failing a urine test and gave "hernia exams" to two other men. One man told police he submitted to the hernia exam because Lynch represented himself as "Dr. Mike," leading him to believe that he was a medical doctor. Authorities said Lynch says he received a doctorate in prison.
Response to news
The news of Lynch's arrest reached Trenton, and officials in the state Department of Human Services, Division of Addiction Services, learned that Beginnings was not licensed to provide substance abuse treatment. Town Business Administrator Peter H. Pelissier on Tuesday ordered the program to stop any services that could be construed as drug or alcohol treatment or counseling.
Pelissier and Mayor Donald Cresitello said the Beginnings program will continue to function only as a referral center for people in need of treatment but that it will be moved to offices at town hall as soon as possible.
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