Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and West Orange Police Chief James P. Abbott announced today that West Orange school teacher Erica Depalo, 33, of Montclair was charged today with having an illegal sexual relationship with a 15-year-old male student she taught in her Honor’s English class.
The arrest warrant charges Depalo with first degree aggravated sexual assault, second degree sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to West Orange Police Detective Louis Mignone, it is alleged that Depalo, who in addition to teaching English is also the Junior Varsity tennis coach, began a sexual relationship with a male student on or about June 15. At the time, the victim was 15 years old. The relationship continued until August 28.
Tonight the Honorable Martin G. Cronin, Judge of the Superior Court, signed an arrest warrant for Depalo. Bail was set at $100,000 by Judge Cronin.
These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they plead guilty or are found guilty in a court of law.
Interim Superintendent of West Orange Schools, James O’Neill, released this statement to us:
We have been advised by the Essex County Prosecutors Office that one of our employees has been arrested; the district has taken strong action by suspending the employee immediately and indefinitely. The school district will cooperate with the prosecutor’s office in every way. The West Orange School District prides itself on being vested in the health, safety and welfare of our students, to that end counselors will be available at West Orange High School beginning at noon on Tuesday September 4th, and every day after as long as needed.
Barista Kids wrote about Ms. DePalo last year when she was selected as the “Teacher of the Year” for Essex County. DePalo taught Honors English for Grades 9 and 10 at West Orange High School since 2003.