MAYS LANDING — An Atlantic City defense attorney was the defendant Thursday during his first court appearance on charges he sexually assaulted a girl in his care when she was 14.
J. David Alcantara, 44, was indicted Tuesday on charges of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. The alleged incidents happened between March 2006 and March 2010, according to the five-count indictment.
The girl was 14 when the alleged abuse began. She is now 20, and came forward last year, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Wilson said outside the courtroom that Alcantara has been cooperative with detectives since the investigation began.
“That’s why we were a bit surprised when they had a direct presentation,” Wilson said of the charges going directly to a grand jury.
Alcantara, who Wilson said denies the allegations, shook his head as he was led into court in an orange jail jump suit and handcuffs.
Wilson waived reading of the indictment and of an explanation of the defendant’s rights.
“He does understand his rights,” Wilson told Superior Court Judge Michael Donio. “As your honor is aware, he is an attorney who does practice in criminal defense.”
Alcantara, who was born in Honduras, is an outspoken civil-rights advocate and the president of the Mainland/Pleasantville branch of the NAACP. He often deals with immigration cases.
“For anyone, this is devastating,” Wilson said. “This is a good attorney held in high regard.”
Both Wilson and Assistant Prosecutor John Flammer agreed to lower Alcantara’s bail to $150,000 cash or bond, without a 10 percent option.
As part of that, Alcantara can have no contact with the girl or her family.
He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 22.
Contact Lynda Cohen:
Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen