The former dean of The Gunnery School in Washington, charged with the sexual assault of four of his former students, chose Tuesday at Litchfield Superior Court to have his case go before a jury.

Surrounded by about 15 students, parents and colleagues from The Gunnery, Robert Reinhardt, 45, appeared relaxed and confident.

Tuesday's hearing was held to determine whether he would accept a plea bargain offered by the state's attorney's office or opt for a jury to decide his case.

Though the pre-trial docket was read at 9:30 a.m., the brief proceeding did not occur until after a recess of more than 90 minutes.

During that time, Mr. Reinhardt mingled with his supporters in the courtroom, several of whom have been regulars at his court appearances.

They offered him hugs and kisses and chatted about their day-to-day lives. The mood was upbeat, belying the circumstances for which they were present.

Mr. Reinhardt, who is free on $950,000 bond, is accused of three counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, and two counts of illegal sexual contact with someone under age 16.

He had resigned his post at the school shortly after the accusations were made but has maintained his innocence.

In the rear of the packed courtroom were some representatives of victims in the case, who sat silently awaiting word on what was to happen next.

When court resumed, senior State's Attorney Terri Sonnemann informed Judge James Ginocchio that, on July 7, she and Mr. Reinhardt's attorney, William Dow, had a closed-door judicial hearing with Superior Court Judge Cara Eschuk.

After that session, Ms. Sonnemann said, the state offered Mr. Reinhardt a plea deal, his second such offer.

Mr. Dow said he and his client discussed the latest offer, and Mr. Reinhardt rejected it in favor of a jury trial. His next pre-trial hearing is scheduled Sept. 10 at 9:30 a.m.

Approached outside the courthouse, Mr. Reinhardt declined to comment.

Mr. Dow said yesterday afternoon he could not elaborate on his client's decision.

A message left for Ms. Sonnemann was not returned.