By Jack Minch
WORCESTER -- A former female sex-education teacher at North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg was arraigned in Worcester Superior Court on Friday afternoon on charges that she raped a 14-year-old male student multiple times.
Rachelle Gendron, 27, of 4 Sheridan St., Fitchburg, was indicted on charges of enticement of a child under 16 years old and five counts of rape aggravated by age difference, said Timothy J. Connolly, spokesman for Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. The charges carry a state-mandated 10-year sentence.
Gendron appeared in court handcuffed and crying. She was still crying as she signed paperwork for her $2,000 cash bail in the clerk magistrate's office afterward.
Gendron pleaded not guilty to the charges.
She has been fired from her job at the school, where she worked as a health- and sex-education teacher for five years.
"As a result of the investigation, she is no longer working there," Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Riddle said.
According to the indictments in the clerk's office, Gendron had sex with the boy three times in October 2012, once in January 2013 and again in March 2013. Sometime before the end of March, she enticed the boy, one indictment alleged.
Riddle requested a bail of $5,000. Defense attorney Andrea Levy asked for no bail on the promise that Gendron return for her next court date, set for Oct. 10. Judge James R. Lemire settled on $2,000.
Gendron is not allowed to contact the boy, not allowed to teach or have contact with children under 16, and must abide by a harassment order issued in Fitchburg District Court.
Fitchburg police Detectives David Daigle and Sgt. Ernest Martineau attended the arraignment but did not comment.
Investigators conducted forensic studies on Gendron and the boy's cellphones, Riddle said. The investigation uncovered text messages between teacher and student "in various states of undress with genitals and breasts exposed," according to Riddle.
The student is no longer enrolled at the school, according to Principal Stephanie Davolos. The school issued a statement after Gendron's arraignment.
"The North Central Charter Essential School's highest priority is the safety and well-being of our students, and we are both shocked and concerned by the allegations against the former employee in question," the statement reads. "Upon first learning of those allegations, we took prompt and appropriate action consistent with the best interests of our students, which included swiftly terminating the individual and fully cooperating with law enforcement authorities investigating this matter."
Gendron has no prior criminal record, according to a courtroom clerk.
After the arraignment, Gendron's attorney said her client "maintains her innocence and intends to defend" herself in court.
Gendron's father declined to comment on the charges.
Gendron began teaching at the school in 2008. A graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Gendron earned her B.A. in English and studio art, graduating summa cum laude.
According to an online profile, Gendron is a sister of Phi Beta Kappa and "enjoys sleeping late, singing opera, healthy excess and anything 'impractical.'"
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