DANVERS – A trial has been scheduled for Sept. 21 in the case against an Essex Tech culinary arts teacher charged with indecently assaulting a student in 2019.
Robert Vandenbulcke’s lawyer told a Salem District Court judge Friday that the case will be tried, as opposed to any attempt to work out a plea agreement.
“This is a definite trial,” lawyer Gerard LaFlamme told Judge Carol-Ann Fraser during the brief hearing.
Vandenbulcke, 64, of Salisbury, was charged and arrested after a student went to the Danvers school to report the allegations to police.
The student, who was 16 at the time, told investigators that Vandenbulcke twice touched the front of his pants, the first time he picked up a towel and the second he adjusted to a knob on the stove.
Vandenbulcke has pleaded not guilty to two counts of indecent assault and battery.
He was immediately suspended from the school.
Vandenbulcke had worked at Greater Lawrence Technical School before moving on to Essex Tech. Prior to his teaching career, he had run a popular Newburyport restaurant in the 1990s and operated a food truck and cart business that appeared at festivals and other events throughout the region.
Friday’s hearing was scheduled as a hearing on a motion by the district attorney’s office to call two other students as witnesses during the trial. The other students will be asked about statements made by the accuser shortly after the alleged incidents – an exception to the rule against hearsay evidence that is known as the “first complaint” testimony.
But LaFlamme did not contest the prosecution’s right to call those witnesses when the case goes to trial.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis
General Chat Chat Lounge