LOWELL, Mass. (AP) — The former athletic director at a Roman Catholic school in Massachusetts has been charged with assault and battery on a child under 14, prosecutors said.

James Parker, 24, who was hired as athletic director at St. Michael School in Lowell in September, was released on personal recognizance after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday.

He was also ordered to stay away from the school and have no contact with the alleged victim and her family, according to a spokesperson for Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan.

Investigators say the student’s parents first discovered the alleged relationship between Parker and their daughter after finding inappropriate text messages on her phone.

The alleged victim said the relationship had gone on for a few weeks but denied any physical contact beyond kissing. In a police report obtained by 7NEWS, the girl admitted to “kissing Parker one time in his office at the school.”

She also said, “Parker would drive to her house and she would secretly meet up with him in his car.”

A message was left with his attorney.

Parker, from Methuen, was fired Nov. 19 for “violating school policy regarding communications with a student,” the school’s principal said in a statement to parents.

All employees of the school undergo a criminal background check, he said.

He is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 12.

(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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