Darien High School English Department Coordinator Douglas Paulsen, 58, of Norwalk, pleaded not guilty to public indecency during a pre-trial hearing at Norwalk Superior Court on Tuesday. He is scheduled to return to court on Thursday, Feb. 25.

Paulsen was charged with public indecency, a class-B misdemeanor that can carry a maximum of six months in prison, on Nov. 24, after another man accused him of performing a lewd act in the showers at an LA Fitness in Norwalk, as first reported on www.dariennewsonline.com.

Paulsen, who has worked at DHS for 33 years, and earns an annual salary of $93,186, was suspended with pay in early December.

Three years prior to the November incident, in February 2006, a 20-year-old man told police that Paulsen masturbated while sitting next to him in the men's saunas at a YMCA while watching him, according to police reports. The man kicked Paulsen with his right foot, shattering Paulsen's upper jaw during that incident, according to police reports.

The man pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in December 2006, according to court documents; he did not press charges against Paulsen.

Darien Public School Superintendent Donald P. Fiftal, who last week announced his plans to retire at the end of this school year, said he did not know about the details of the 2006 incident until last month.

"The information available has framed the situation in a way that means that I really need to conduct a full investigation, that we investigate separately from the judicial system," Fiftal has said following the Dec. 8 decision to suspend Paulsen. "Also, though, we are not linked to the judicial system necessarily. In other words, there could be one judicial outcome and the district's outcome could be in a different kind of direction."