DANVERS (CBS) – A high school culinary teacher appeared in court on Thursday on charges that he inappropriately touched a student on two occasions.

Sixty-two-year-old Robert Vandenbulcke is charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery. He was arraigned in Salem District Court and a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf.

Vandenbulcke is a culinary arts teacher at Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School in Danvers. A 16-year-old boy who is a student at the school said Vandenbulcke touched him inappropriately twice with the back of his hand while they were in the kitchen of the high school’s restaurant one day last week.

Robert Vandenbulcke. (WBZ-TV)

Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School Superintendent Heidi Riccio said she learned of the investigation Nov. 13 and immediately placed Vandenbulcke on administrative leave. Riccio said the school is also investigating the allegations.

“The safety and well-being of our students are our top priorities. Essex Tech is cooperating fully with the Danvers Police Department and the school has launched its own investigation into the matter,” Riccio said in a statement.

According to court documents, the incidents happened during class on November 12. The student left class before it was over and reported what happened to the school.

Essex Tech student Jason Simeone said he had no problems with Vandenbulcke, but heard rumblings among his classmates. “I never saw him do anything and stuff like that but like I’ve been told stories before like he went up to people and like put them in a corner and stuff,” Jason told WBZ outside school.

In court, a judge ordered Vandenbulcke to wear a GPS bracelet and stay away from the alleged victim and the school.


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