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Sex-ed teacher facing rape charges

A Fitchburg sex-education teacher charged with raping a teenage student will return to court Oct. 10 for a pretrial hearing, her lawyer said Monday.

Rachelle Gendron, 27, was indicted and arraigned Friday on charges in connection with an alleged relationship with a male student who attended North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg, where the defendant taught, prosecutors said after the court session.

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Gendron’s lawyer, Edward P. Ryan Jr., said his client was released after she posted the $2,000 bail set at her arraignment in Worcester Superior Court, and said Gendron was “absolutely” maintaining her innocence.

“She’s holding up well,” Ryan said, “but these are serious and overwhelming allegations.”

The charter school released a statement over the weekend expressing shock at the allegations and defending its response to the charges.

“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,” the statement said.

It was not immediately clear when the allegations came to light or when Gendron was terminated from her position at the school.

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Gendron was charged with five counts of rape aggravated by difference of age and with enticing a person under age 16, for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a male student at North Central Charter. Prosecutors say Gendron was 26 and the victim was 14 when the alleged relationship began last October.

As part of bail arguments during Gendron’s arraignment Friday, Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Riddle presented evidence to Judge James R. Lemire that the teacher had sent lewd pictures of herself to the victim, a representative of Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said Friday.

As part of the conditions of her release, Gendron was ordered by the judge to stay away from the victim, the school, and children under 16.

Ryan said he and cocounsel Andrea Levy will be sorting through the prosecution’s evidence to build a defense for Gendron.

“We need to get all of the discovery that support all of these allegations,” Ryan said.

“We’re going to analyze it, and then we’re going to move forward and defend our client.”

Nicholas Jacques can be reached at nicholas.jacques@ globe.com.
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