Former Hillcrest Education Center staffer accused of sexually assaulting girl
PITTSFIELD - A former Hillcrest Education Center worker is facing felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a young girl at the center's Lenox facility between October 2013 and August 2014.
Blary Sanchez, 21, of Lee, was employed at the center that provides specialized care and education services for children and adolescents with psychiatric and emotional needs at the time of the alleged abuse of a 13-year-old girl who was a client there.
When the allegations initially were made, Sanchez was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Jerry Burke, the president & CEO of Hillcrest Educational Centers. He has since been terminated and banned from coming onto any of the Hillcrest properties.
Before Sanchez was hired, he passed all the required "rigorous" background checks that all Hillcrest workers are subject to, Burke said.
The organization made all the required notifications to state and local agencies and "cooperated fully" with the police investigation, he said.
"The health and safety of our students is paramount and infractions will not be tolerated," Burke told The Eagle in an e-mail. "We will continue to cooperate with authorities on this matter and look to the community for their trust and support during this time."
Appearing with attorney Joshua C. Hochberg, Sanchez pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to five counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery by a mandated reporter and a single count of witness intimidation.
Because Sanchez was a mandated reporter, meaning he was legally obligated to report abuse or suspected abuse, the assault charges carry a harsher penalty that include a minimum-mandatory 10-year state prison sentence and a maximum life sentence upon conviction.
The witness intimidation charge stems from Sanchez's alleged attempts to keep the girl from discussing the relationship with others.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Rachael Eramo didn't ask for bail in the case but did request the court to order Sanchez not to have any contact with the alleged victim.
Judge John A. Agostini released Sanchez on his personal recognizance and ordered him to stay away from the complaining witness. The defendant is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 19.
The investigation was conducted by members of the Lenox Police Department.
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