A teacher at an exclusive California private school who is accused of having developed a sexual relationship with a teenage student pleaded not guilty to a host of felony charges during her first court appearance on Friday.
Aimee Palmitessa, a 45-year-old teacher at the Brentwood School, pleaded not guilty to seven counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, two counts each of sodomy and sexual penetration by foreign object of a person under 18 and one count of oral copulation of a person who is under 18, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The charges stem from a relationship that Palmitessa allegedly carried on with a 17-year-old male student over the summer. She was arrested on August 18 when the teen reported their salacious conduct to authorities and was released on bail hours afterwards.
Prosecutors claim that Palmitessa, a biology teacher at one of the most expensive private schools in Los Angeles, sexually assaulted her student multiple times between June 12 and August 11. If convicted, she faces up to ten years and four months in state prison.
Palmitessa holds a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology and previously taught at Penn State Abington university in Pennsylvania.
In a statement, Brentwood School head Mike Riera said that administrators were providing counseling services to students and parents who have been adversely affected by the news.
“We remain in close touch with our families, offering them resources to draw from as they help their children navigate this difficult time,” he said.
Riera also wrote in a newsletter to parents that Palmitessa had been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of her trial.