Michael Wagner – Diocese of Paterson

by | Sep 11, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Michael Wagner (Lay Teacher)

Diocese of Paterson

Michael Wagner Horowitz Law

Assignment History:

  • 2021-2022: Pope John XXIII Regional High School (Sparta, NJ)
  • 2016-2021: Reverend George Brown School (Sparta, NJ)
  • 2010-2016: Byram Township Schools (Stanhope, NJ)

Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Michael Wagner:

Michael Wagner was a physics and science teacher at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta under the Diocese of Paterson in New Jersey. On October 17, 2022, Wagner, 40, was arrested for taking hundreds of lewd photos of female students and subsequently charged with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree possession of child sexual abuse material, and third-degree invasion of privacy.

One week before Wagner’s arrest, a fellow teacher at the high school overheard a conversation between multiple 8th-grade female students talking about their teacher, Wagner, recording them during class. The teacher notified the school authorities and the Sparta police, igniting an investigation. According to media reports, the police viewed classroom videos that captured Wagner using his cellphone to record and take photos of female students while seated at his desk and some while walking around the room. The police said that Wagner used a notepad to cover the phone screen and had female students move to desks in the front of the classroom so he could film them from underneath his desk, the report states.

The Sparta Police Department searched Wagner’s personal devices, which included five laptops and five cellphones, and found evidence that Wagner possessed, viewed, or had under his control “less than one thousand” items showing the sexual exploitation or abuse of children. They 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 and at their homecoming dance. A preliminary law enforcement report states Wagner “attempted to conceal, discard or destroy evidence” by hiding it in a couch.

During the investigation, the police discovered that Wagner was investigated one year prior, in 2021, after a complaint was made by a female student that Wagner had “touched and rubbed her back and shoulders.” The police at that time did not find a chargeable offense. 

The diocese refused to comment but did release a statement saying that 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. According to Wagner’s LinkedIn page, he has been a teacher since 2010.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by employees of the Diocese of Paterson and its schools. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by someone employed in a church or school of the Diocese of Paterson, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused in the Diocese of Paterson now have legal options to recover damages. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.