The attorney for Lacey Superintendent Sandra Brower, a former Wall district administrator, said the charges Tuesday that she tried to hide a possible sex-abuse case are “false and ridiculous.’’
Edward C. Bertucio, of the Red Bank-based firm Hobbie Corrigan & Bertucio, said he has asked for the “earliest possible trial date in an effort to gain the immediate exoneration of Sandra Brower, to clear her name and seek her reinstatement in her current position.’’
Brower, 46, of Allenwood-Lakewood Road in Wall, was indicted Monday on charges of official misconduct, hindering and obstruction. She pleaded not guilty in Superior Court Monday afternoon.
She is due in Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia’s courtroom on June 10 for a status hearing.
Brower, who served as assistant superintendent of Wall schools until November of 2011, is accused of not immediately reporting the possible sexual assault of a 4-year-old special needs student, lying to police and trying to cover up her inaction, according to the three-count indictment handed up Monday morning.
Brower, the current superintendent of Lacey Township schools, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday, with pay, by the Lacey School Board of Education.
That board is in the process of scheduling a special meeting to discuss Brower’s status in light of Monday’s events, officials said.
It was unclear whether Brower’s indictment was related to the raid of former Wall Township schools superintendent James Habel’s Point Pleasant home in September.
The official misconduct charge comes with a minimum five year prison term, with a maximum of 10 years. The hindering charge has a maximum term of five years and the obstruction charge comes with a maximum sentence of 18 months, according to Charles Webster, spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.
The indictment stems from a May 2009 incident when a 4-year-old special needs student said a teacher took him into the bathroom at a “district special education school” and "inappropriately touched his privates," the indictment says.
The indictment says Brower was made aware of the incident in a May 7, 2009, email from the school’s principal. The email detailed the possible assault and included a summary of the incident from the child’s mother.
The next day — May 8, 2009 — Brower spoke to the school’s principal several times about the possible assault. Then, Brower told a central office employee to forward the parent’s email to the school district’s attorney.
Brower then hit the phones, according to the indictment.
For the next three hours — from 7:25 a.m. to 10:31 a.m. — Brower made at least a dozen calls to various school district officials regarding the possible assault, including a 19-minute call to Habel, the indictment says.
Brower, according to the indictment, called the Board of Education four times for a total of 12 minutes. It is unclear from the indictment if those calls were to individual school board members or to the board’s offices.
She also called the district’s Information Technology Director twice for a total of 16 minutes. There was an 11-minute call to Gross, the board attorney, and four calls to the school principal, for a total of 11 minutes, the indictment says.
The district’s Director of Information Technology was Jeff Janover, who is still with the district.
Despite the flurry of calls that day, none was made to the Wall Township Police, the indictment says.
Four hours later, at 2:30 p.m., two Wall Township Police officers were dispatched to the district’s central office on 18 Avenue to investigate the possible assault on the young child, the indictment says. The police, acting on a tip from the state Division of Youth and Family Services, talked to Brower, who that day was sitting in for an absent Habel, the indictment says.
Brower “denied having any knowledge of the incidents,’’ surrounding the possible assault, the indictment says.
That night, Brower directed the district information technology director to extract emails of all district central office employees she believed knew about the May 7, 2009, email and her knowledge of the possible assault, the indictment says.
From the evening of May 8, 2009, to June, 2009, Janover repeatedly extracted dozens of emails, the indictment says.
And within weeks of the incident, those central office employees who knew about Brower’s involvement and knowledge of the May 8, 2009, incident were fired, moved into other jobs or forced to resign or retire, the indictment says.
It was later determined that the sexual abuse charges were unsustained following an investigation by the Wall Township Police, Gramiccioni said Monday afternoon.