WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Essex County Prosecutor's Office announced that the case against Erica DePalo, 33, West Orange High School English Teacher and Teacher of the Year in 2011, will go before an Essex County Grand Jury. DePalo, who pleaded not guilty in September to charges of having sex with a minor (a 15 year old student at the high school), was charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.
The Grand Jury will decide whether or not to indict DePalo, and determine what the charges will be. A court appearance was scheduled for yesterday, but was canceled because she now has to face a grand jury.
If indicted, DePalo will face trial, or may attempt to work out a plea deal with the Prosecutor's Office. The Grand Jury process is expected to take several weeks and they are closed sessions.