In a claim filed last Friday, September 20th, the Mt. Diablo school district and 6 of its former employees were accused of sexually abusing students at a local elementary school. The allegations concern issues that stem as far back as 2010, when popular Woodside Elementary school teacher, J.M., wrote a suspicious and uncomfortable note to one of his 5th grade students. The content of the note included statements such as, “I love having you at school,” and “I love your happy personality,” and “You always greet me in a pleasant way;” statements that are not only uncomfortable given the situation at hand, but messages that are also extremely inappropriate for a teacher to deliver to a student.
For over two years after writing the first note, the elementary school teacher engaged in more-than-questionable acts for a man of his stature, including the abuse of two brothers from Concord. Reports suggest that J.M. repeatedly manipulated the brothers by bribing the boys with swim invitations, Disneyland toys, and more. He even went so far as to engage the brothers in online chats and phone calls, while also befriending the boys’ parents. Now, members of the Concord family are alleging that the victimization of the brothers need never have happened if the school district had properly reported to authorities about the previous complaints that had been made against J.M., some of which had already been outlined in an internal district report from 2006.
The legal claim that has been made against J.M. on behalf of the Concord family alleges that the teacher’s “grooming” began earnestly in the Spring of 2011, at which time he initiated Facebook communications with the boys’ mother. The elementary teacher was so skillful in his ability to manipulate multiple members of the Concord family that he was able to procure intimate information from the mother, including details about her Christian faith, her personal fears, and her concerns about her health. With this insight, J.M. systematically established himself as a “trusted family friend,” and he used his relationship with the family to discourage the two young boys from telling their mother about the abuse.
Using well-crafted forms of manipulation, J.M. was able to successfully continue his abusive relationship with the brothers. He even took it upon himself to write another note – this time to the eldest brother – very shortly before the boy’s graduation. The content of the note was similar in tone and message to the first one that initially instigated the relationship, this time saying, “I want to thank you for always wanting to sit by me and for coming up and giving me random hugs. You made me feel important…I really did love and care about you…I will no longer be your teacher, but always a true friend.” Also included in the letter was the teacher’s home address, two email addresses, and a Facebook friend request.
Unfortunately, graduating from elementary school did not end the older brother’s contact with his former teacher. J.M. made calculated measures to ensure that he remained embedded in the family’s life; doling out medical advice to the mother; inviting the older brother over to his home to go swimming; delivering a Subway gift card to the husband when the mother was hospitalized; and chatting with the older brother online. The teacher’s secretive acts went so far as to convince the Concord family to speak with administration about having their younger son transferred into J.M.’s class, advising the family to not mention that the idea had come from him.
It was not long after the younger son was transferred into J.M.’s class that he began experiencing major anxiety, so severe that he remained awake all night throwing up in late September of the school year in which he was transferred to J.M.’s class. When the boy revealed to his mother that the anxiety was school-related, she immediately contacted J.M. about the situation. The teacher’s response to her concerns: “I will assure him that (it) is safe to talk to me anytime and I promise him I will not endanger him by doing so.” Not surprisingly, however, the boy’s anxieties did not diminish; in fact, they worsened.
By March of 2013, J.M. vocally attributed the child’s anxiety to the dictation tests being given in class. As a solution to the problem, the teacher began giving the younger brother one-on-one sessions, a time that he used to engage in “touching behaviors,” with the boy. In May, the boy’s parents were made aware of the inappropriate sexual behaviors engaged in by their sons’ teacher. The news was delivered to the Concord family by a local police detective who revealed that the boys’ names were brought up during an investigation of the elementary school teacher.
The Concord family has filed a claim against the elementary school teacher, which is the second of its kind – the first, a federal civil rights lawsuit, was filed earlier this year. J.M. has since been arrested for his sexual misconduct and is facing charges for the molestation of 13 male students – 125 counts in total – all of which he pleaded “not guilty” to. The parents, who are still devastated by the entire scandal, have vocalized their discontent, which concerns the fact that they were “forced to unwittingly play a role in enabling [J.M.] to manipulate the trust of their children,” as alleged in their legal claim.
Contact a California child sex sexual abuse lawyer at The Senators Firm if you or someone you love were victimized by the sexually explicit behaviors of a teacher.