'Teacher of the year' in New Jersey denies sex charge involving student

An attorney for a New Jersey "Teacher of the Year" said the woman will plead not guilty to charges she had a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old honors student.

Erica DePalo, who was the 2011 teacher of the year in Essex County, faces aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment charges.

She faced a court hearing Wednesday in Newark. Before the hearing, her lawyer said she maintains her innocence.

Prosecutors said the 33-year-old Montclair resident had a relationship with a boy in her honors English class. They said the affair started in June and ended recently.

DePalo has been indefinitely suspended from her job teaching English at West Orange High School.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.