An allegation of sexual assault brought by a female student regarding one of the Gloucester public schools' staff members has been referred to the Essex District Attorney's office.

"It was referred to the Essex District Attorney's office for further investigation," Gloucester police Chief Ed Conley said. "The Gloucester Police Department will not be taking a primary active role in this investigation."

Conley confirmed that matter is still an open case.

When asked by a Times reporter if the State Police were going to take over the investigation, Carrie Kimball of Essex District Attorney's Office said that "our policy is to neither confirm nor deny details of the investigation."

Superintendent Richard Safier had no updates to deliver this morning or at Wednesday's School Committee meeting regarding the investigation.

Neither did the committee discuss or make a statement on the matter Wednesday night.

"It was our responsibility to communicate with the public about the matter," Safier said to the Times on Thursday, referring to the letter he published Tuesday.

Safier directed all further inquiries to the letter.

The letter Safier sent to parents and guardians of students informed them of the alleged incident and detailed what the schools' response will be.

"Upon learning of the allegation, we immediately began an investigation and took steps to ensure both the physical and emotional well-being of the student while the investigation is pending," Safier wrote. "We will continue conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the allegation in coordination with the Gloucester Police Department."

When asked if the investigation is still ongoing, Safier referred the Times reporter to the letter.

School Committee member Joel Favazza said that what the community knows from the letter is what the committee knows.

"Unless the suit was brought to the district, we don't get involved," Favazza said.

Samantha Watson, another School Committee member, explained that "they were informed from the superintendent that an investigation was happening," but that is it.

When asked why it was not discussed at Wednesday's meeting, Watson explained "that is not something that they would discuss in a public meeting as it comes down to the confidentiality of everyone involved."

School Committee member Melissa Joy Teixeira Prince declined to comment, while Chairman Jonathan Pope, Laura Wiessen, and Kathleen Clancy did not return did not return phone calls made by the Times this morning.

The staff member accused of the allegation has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Safier declined to comment on the location of where the staff member works and where the alleged assault occurred.

"We understand how difficult it is for a student to come forward and express such concerns, and whenever or wherever such a circumstance might occur, we encourage students to do so," Safier wrote in his letter earlier this week.

Safier confirmed that the parents of the student have been notified of the allegation.

This story will be updated at gloucestertimes.com and in Friday's print edition of the Gloucester Daily Times.

Staff writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@northofboston.com.

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