Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School teacher Robert Vandenbulcke has been accused of sexually assaulting a student on school grounds. The 62-year-old culinary arts teacher was arrested on Wednesday, November 20 on two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.
A police investigation into Vandenbulcke began on November 12 when a parent of a student at Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical High School reported an incident of sexual assault that allegedly happened at the school. On November 13, school officials were notified of this criminal investigation and Vandenbulcke was placed on administrative leave.
Vandenbulcke is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, November 21 in Salem District Court. This information remains under investigation and no further details are available at this time.
Attorney contributor Kim Dougherty has some general information to share regarding the legal rights of teacher sex abuse victims and their families:
Schools are where our children go to learn more about the world around them and how to be successful and well-rounded adults. This means that teachers are some of the most trusted members of our communities. Most teachers are worthy of this trust, but sadly, there have also been numerous cases of teachers sexually abusing students in schools throughout the country.
School administrators, principals, superintendents, and others in leadership roles have a legal duty to make sure their students are as safe as possible. When a teacher is accused of sexually assaulting a student, it's important to determine if leadership at the school was negligent in a way that allowed the abuse to happen - such as failing to report previous complaints of sexual misconduct involving a teacher.
Seeing abusers brought to justice in criminal courts is a crucial part of justice for many survivors, but it's also important to make sure negligent school districts are held accountable when they fail to protect their students from sexual predators. In cases of negligence, school sex abuse victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is a survivor of school sex abuse, you can learn more about your legal rights in a free consultation with one of our sexual assault victims lawyers.