EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A teacher’s aide and diving coach at Egg Harbor Township High School used Snapchat to share images of child abuse and sexual exploitation, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said Thursday.

Mark Balesteri Jr., 29, of Egg Harbor Township, was arrested Thursday and charged with distribution of child abuse and sexual exploitation images, possession of child abuse and sexual exploitation images with intent to distribute, and possession of child abuse and sexual exploitation images.

Superintendent Kim Gruccio said the school district has suspended Balesteri and is cooperating with law enforcement.

The arrest followed a monthslong investigation and a search of Balesteri’s home Thursday morning, Tyner said in a news release.

Balesteri is being held at the Atlantic County jail.

The Prosecutor’s Office was first tipped off through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Tyner said. State Police and detectives with the Egg Harbor Township Police Department assisted in the investigation.

“Sadly, the transmission of child pornography is a pervasive problem throughout our community that does not always receive enough attention,” said Tyner. “Child predators lurk behind their computer screens and exploit defenseless children with the stroke of a keyboard. These predators occupy many positions of trust, from teachers and coaches to many other professions.”

Balesteri is not the only school employee in Atlantic County facing child porn charges. Pleasantville High School Principal Edward James Bonek was arrested and charged in August with possession of child pornography authorities say he downloaded and shared online. Bonek, 49, of Absecon, was indicted in October and has since pleaded not guilty.

Contact: 609-272-7260 cshaw@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressColtShaw

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

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