CAMBRIDGE — The chairman of the Cohasset School Committee faced charges Friday morning in a Cambridge courtroom after allegedly seeking sexual favors for a fee, beginning with a Craigslist ad for a “cute office assistant” who wears “short skirts.”
An undercover officer responded to the ad posted by Paul Ognibene, 43, a real estate developer in Cambridge, according to police.
The ad read, “Looking for an outgoing, fun, energetic, cute office assistant. Ideal candidate would have some college training or a college degree and be between 22 and 32 years old. Dress code is casual, but short skirts are always preferred because it’s mostly guys!”
The officer met Ognibene at Dunkin’ Donuts in the CambridgeSide Galleria mall, the police report said. During the meeting, Ognibene informed the undercover agent that the job entailed becoming his personal assistant, which would include “lunch dates, hanging out in a hot tub at a hotel, massages and fantasy phone sex,” according to the report.
Ognibene said he expected a fully nude massage that included a “happy ending,” by which he meant additional sexual favors, for $50 compensation, the police report said.
Officers arrested Ognibene after he asked the undercover agent if she would engage in a trial run that night, and charged him with one count of soliciting sexual conduct for a fee.
He was arraigned Friday morning in Cambridge District Court and pleaded not guilty, according to his lawyer, Conrad Bletzer. The case was continued until July 27.
Bletzer spoke highly of Ognibene, whom he said he knows well.
“He’s a wonderful person. He’s a great family man. He’s a great businessman,” Bletzer said in a phone interview after the court proceeding.
Bletzer said his client resigned from the Cohasset School Committee before appearing in court for his arraignment.
Ognibene is a graduate of Boston College and Harvard Business School, according to a website advertising his run for a spot on the Cohasset School Committee. Now, the website says, he runs Urban Spaces, a real estate firm that acquires, develops, and manages properties close to urban transportation centers.
He met with the undercover officer in the Urban Spaces’ office, a nondescript building across the street from the CambridgeSide Galleria on Tuesday. On Friday afternoon, Ognibene’s office was locked with no one visible inside.
Ognibene lives on Beach Street in Cohasset with his wife and two children, according to his campaign website.
Cohasset School Superintendent Barbara Cataldo, said she was “extremely surprised” by the news of Ognibene’s arrest. The school system, she said in a phone interview, always had a professional relationship with Ognibene.
“He’s been a strong contributing member,” Cataldo said. “We have a really strong team. He did an excellent job of leading that team. He really believed in the school system . . . and truly believed in students.”
Jeanne Astino, vice chairman of the school committee, said she has not received an official resignation from Ognibene, but he told her verbally he will resign.
Astino said in a phone interview she was shocked to hear of Ognibene’s arrest and called him a committed committee member.
The Cohasset School Committee will meet soon to discuss moving forward without Ognibene, Astino said.
Monica Disare can be reached at email@example.com.