BY DAN PROCHILO
West Orange High School teacher Erica DePalo pleaded not guilty this morning during an arraignment on charges that she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student this summer.
DePalo, 33, of Montclair, who had her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, and was wearing white stud earrings, a pearl necklace, a black pants suit, and black high heels, did not speak during the two-minute hearing in Superior Court in Newark.
DePalo, who is out on bond, appeared in court with her attorney, Anthony Alfano.
Alfano told reporters outside the courtroom prior to the hearing that his client was “grateful for the overwhelming amount of support she has received over the past week from fellow teachers, from her peers, and from members of the West Orange community.”
The lawyer continued: “It’s very, very heartwarming the support she has been receiving.”
Alfano declined to detail the specifics of the matter, but affirmed that DePalo maintains her innocence.
During the hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Gigi Scoles, of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit, requested, as a condition of DePalo’s bail, that the defendant be barred from contacting the victim, the victim’s family, witnesses in the case, and employees of West Orange High School, as well as the school premises.
Alfano agreed to the conditions, which were imposed by Judge Roslyn Holmes-Grant.
DePalo has been suspended indefinitely, according to Jeanine Genauer, a spokesperson for the West Orange Public Schools District. The district “is following the law, and Ms. DePalo has been initially suspended with pay,” Genauer said.
DePalo, whose attorney said she has been working for the district for about 10 years, was charged on Aug. 31 with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
This article was written by DAN PROCHILO and originally published on northjersey