'Teacher of the year' in N.J. denies sex charge

September 12, 2012 8:25:56 AM PDT
An attorney for a county teacher of the year says she will plead not guilty to charges she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old honors student.

Erica DePalo faces aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment charges.

She faced a court hearing Wednesday in Newark. Before the hearing, her lawyer said she maintains her innocence.

Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Montclair resident had a relationship with a boy in her honors English class. They say the affair started in June and ended recently.

DePalo has been indefinitely suspended from her job teaching English at West Orange High School. She was the 2011 teacher of the year in Essex County.