FREEHOLD, N.J. - A central New Jersey school official was indicted Monday on charges that she failed to report allegations that a teacher sexually assaulted a 4-year-old special-needs student and tried to cover it up.
Sandra Brower, 46, was serving as assistant school superintendent in Wall in 2009 when the incidents occurred, the indictment said. She left in 2011 to become superintendent of the Lacey Township district in Ocean County.
Brower pleaded not guilty to charges of official misconduct, obstruction, and hindering apprehension. Her attorney, Edward Bertucio, said that the allegations are "false and ridiculous" and that he would seek the earliest possible trial date.
Brower has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the case, officials said.
According to the indictment, Brower learned of the allegations when a school principal notified her via e-mail. But when police arrived the next day to investigate, Brower allegedly claimed she had just learned of the matter and said the e-mail did not provide any details of the allegations.
That evening, prosecutors say, Brower told the district's information technology director to extract the e-mails of all district employees whom she believed had knowledge of the e-mail.
District employees who knew about Brower's alleged false statements to police and her attempted cover-up were fired, transferred, or forced to retire or resign, the indictment also said.
No one from the district notified police about the alleged sex assault, which was reported to have occurred in a school bathroom, authorities said. Officers learned of the allegation from the state Division of Youth and Family Services.
If convicted, Brower could face up to 10 years in prison.
It was not clear Monday whether the allegations against the teacher were ever substantiated or if any charges were filed in the matter.