A former teacher at the Heath School in Brookline is accused of sexually assaulting a student multiple times over a two-year period starting in 2016, when the girl was 12-years-old, according to Brookline police.
Larry Chen, 36, of Newton, was arraigned Tuesday on 18 counts each of statutory rape of a child, indecent assault and battery on a child under 14 and rape of a child with force, according to court records.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges during his arraignment in Brookline District Court, according to David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.
In court, a prosecutor said Chen allegedly assaulted the student after getting her alone in his classroom.
“The defendant asked the victim to come to his classroom after school, which she did,” Norfolk Assistant District Attorney Brittany Carney said, according to video broadcast by NBC Boston. “While there, the victim reported that the defendant locked the door behind her. And when the victim sat down in a chair, the defendant began to touch the victim on her shoulders, her chest, and in between her legs.”
A judge granted prosecutors’ request that Chen be held on $10,000 bail, and that he be fitted with a GPS bracelet that would exclude him from the area of a school.
Chen is due to return to court on Wednesday to post bail and be fitted for the bracelet, Traub said.
Chen must also refrain from teaching or tutoring anyone under 18, and no contact with victim or witnesses in case. His next court date is May 16, Traub said.
Chen was employed with the Brookline schools from September 2013 up until his resignation in 2018, police said.
At one point, Chen was also a teacher at the Michael Driscoll School, where parents and students rallied to save his job, according to past Globe reporting.
In 2015, parents said Chen had been fired from his job teaching seventh- and eighth-grade social studies at the school after another teacher reported hearing him say “bull [expletive]” to two high school students after normal school hours.
Parents said the reporting teacher’s account had been disputed, but Chen was abruptly fired. About 20 students waving signs and wearing shirts that said “Save Chen” marched through a School Committee meeting that October to demand his reinstatement. He was reinstated later that month.
He also was a seasonal employee with the town’s recreation department last summer, Brookline School Superintendent Linus Guillory said in a statement Tuesday.
Recreation department officials did not immediately respond Tuesday evening to an inquiry about Chen’s work there.
Guillory said the district is “deeply concerned” about the allegations and is “committed to providing our full cooperation with the investigation into these charges,” according to the statement.
Chen also runs a private tutoring business, School Beyond School LLC, “which may put others at risk,” and a warrant for his arrest was issued Monday night, police said in a Facebook post.
But most of Chen’s alleged assaults took place at the Heath School, police said.
“The victim was twelve years old when the first incident occurred, and the majority of crimes are alleged to have happened in a classroom at the Heath School in Brookline,” police wrote.
Police began investigating after receiving a report on March 10 from a resident who alleged that a victim was sexually assaulted over a period of approximately two years from 2016 through half of 2018, police said.
On Monday, investigators trained in sexual assault cases interviewed the victim, who “that her social studies teacher had sexually assaulted her for two school years, beginning when she was in 6th grade and lasting until the end of 7th grade,” police wrote.
Guillory said the district was made aware of the allegations on Tuesday. Chen, who was 31 at the time the alleged abuse began, resigned from the Brookline schools in November 2018, according to the statement.
“Our paramount concern is always the safety and well-being of our students, and school counselors are available to students as needed to provide support,” he said.
The school district also sent a letter to families and staff, which called the student who came forward “courageous.”
“Our primary concern is for the student who courageously came forward. As you speak with your children about this matter, please encourage them to support the privacy of the student involved, to refrain from conjecture or speculation, and to demonstrate compassion and empathy,” the letter read.
The incident remains under investigation, officials said.
Anyone with information regarding this case or related events are encouraged to contact Brookline Police at (617) 730-2222.
Correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed to this story.