SJ Teacher Didn't Slap Student: Courts

Witnesses say the 18-year-old student misinterpreted the teacher's actions.

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011  |  Updated 2:33 PM EDT
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SJ Teacher Didn't Slap Student: Courts

A southern New Jersey high school teacher who allegedly slapped a female student's face has been cleared of a simple assault charge she filed.

Salem City Municipal Court Judge Jason Witcher ruled Tuesday that there wasn't enough evidence to indicate Steve Merritt intended to injure the 18-year-old student.

Witnesses said Merritt -- a longtime English teacher at Salem High School -- merely tapped the girl in what appeared to be a joking manner. And Witcher said the girl apparently misinterpreted Merritt's actions.

The girl and other students were in an empty classroom on June 13, setting up a baby shower for a fellow student, when Merritt entered and asked why a door leading to an adjoining classroom was closed.

After a brief argument, the girl claimed Merritt slapped her.

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