- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) - The boyfriend of a missing 5-year-old Fitchburg boy’s mother was ordered held on $250,000 cash bail on Thursday in connection with the child’s disappearance.

Alberto Sierra, 23, pleaded not guilty in Worcester Superior Court to charges of indecent assault and battery on a child, permitting bodily injury to a child, reckless endangerment of a child, kidnapping a child, assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.

Jeremiah Oliver was last seen by relatives in September but wasn’t reported missing until December. Authorities fear he is dead. He was supposed to be monitored by state social workers when he disappeared.

The charges against Sierra are related to Jeremiah’s disappearance and to alleged abuse of his two siblings and mother, prosecutors have said.

Sierra’s lawyer, Alan Black, said he no comment about the case outside of court Thursday. Black did not challenge bail, meaning no additional details about the case were disclosed in open court.

The boy’s mother, Elsa Oliver, 28, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and reckless endangerment of a child, kidnapping of a child and permitting an assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury.

She is being held on $100,000 bail after pleading not guilty in district court.

The couple was indicted last week, moving the case to Superior Court.

The case led to criticism of the state Department of Children and Families. Three department employees were fired, and several investigations found problems with the way the department was run.

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