NEWARK, N.J. – The eighth grade football coach for Lakewood Middle School has been indicted by a grand jury on two counts of rape.
A grand jury returned an indictment Thursday against Gary T. Stratford, 36, of Thornville, charging him with the first-degree felonies.
Stratford was arrested in September after police began investigating allegations of sexual misconduct between Stratford and a minor.
According to the indictment, Stratford engaged in sexual conduct with the minor between Sept. 23 and 24.
Court records said the minor told police she was provided alcohol by Stratford and he had engaged in the alleged sexual conduct after that point.
During an initial appearance on Sept. 25, Magistrate Mattie Klein set bond at $250,000 and ordered Stratford to have no contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 18.
Stratford’s bond was posted on Sept. 29. Superintendent Mary Kay Andrews said Thursday afternoon Stratford is on unpaid leave. This was his first year coaching the eighth grade football team at Lakewood Middle School after being appointed to the position on Sept. 13.
Stratford also coached for the Lakewood Youth Baseball Association and was listed on the association’s website as having leadership positions within the organization.
The minor involved is not connected to Stratford’s coaching at Lakewood or with the Lakewood Youth Baseball Association.
Stratford is currently scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on Oct. 24, according to court records.