By Amethyst Martinez
Rider’s Westminster Conservatory of Music employee Dezheng Ping pleaded not guilty to one count of third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact on Nov. 15 after a hearing in front of a judge.
The violin instructor was arrested last year after he was accused of inappropriately touching a 12-year-old child during a music lesson at Ping’s home.
Ping, who attended his arraignment at the Middlesex County Courthouse on Tuesday, waived his right to an indictment and was ordered by Judge Joseph Paone to a pretrial intervention program and psychosexual evaluation, along with a $50 victim of crime compensation assessment and $75 safe neighborhood assessment.
Ping was also ordered to have no contact with the victim in the case. If the pretrial intervention conditions are met, the judge said the criminal case will be dropped against Ping in 24 months.
An investigation by the Plainsboro Township Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office alleged in 2016 that Ping inappropriately touched the child during violin lessons in Ping’s residence, which was in Plainsboro, New Jersey, at the time, according to a September 2021 press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. He was arrested on Sept. 23, 2021.
Ping was placed on leave after his 2021 arrest, but performed at a faculty public recital “Conservatory at Nassau: Violin and Piano” in September of this year.
Kristine Brown, Rider’s associate vice president for university marketing and communications, told The Rider News last month: “Dezheng Ping has not provided any private music lessons through the Westminster Conservatory since Sept. 2021. Because his legal case is ongoing, he has not yet been terminated. He performed at a public recital not held on campus in Sept. 2022.”
Another Westminster Conservatory of Music violin instructor, José Sánchez, was arrested on Oct. 7 following a child pornography investigation, according to law enforcement officials. Both Ping and Sánchez taught music lessons to young students on Rider’s Princeton campus.
Brown said on Oct. 12 that Sánchez, who was charged with second-degree file sharing of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography, is no longer actively employed by the university.
After Sánchez’s arrest, the conservatory was identifying his students and contacting their parents to either cancel or reschedule their lessons under a different instructor.
The Westminster Conservatory of Music is a branch of Rider University that offers children’s music lessons and classes.
Originally printed in the 11/16/22 issue.