Hardly anyone would argue that the sexual molestation of a child should not be a punishable offense (CA Penal Code 288). But, what happens when these charges have been falsely levied against you? Not only would that mean a significant number of wasted years in jail while your life on the outside slips away from you minute by minute, but it also means lifetime registration as a sex offender, one of the harshest punishments of all. Yet, this is exactly what happened to 46-year-old instructor (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), who used to teach both 4th and 5th grade at Woodside Elementary School. He had been a trusted and revered member of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District since the early 1990s, but he was arrested last year on trumped up charges; they said he molested some of the children he worked with.
Now, he has been acquitted of all charges (which at one point added up to over 100 separate counts!). How could something like this have happened to a clearly innocent man? The simple fact is that even though there are real cases in which trusted adults molest children, sometimes adults are wrongly accused and end up suffering the same consequences anyway. He still stands accused of 5 counts of child molestation; his recent trial (which ended in a hung jury) only covered 95 cases against him, ones where he was supposed to have molested children as young as 11 and as old as 17. He is still fighting to fully clear his name and insists that his actions (patting children on the chest) was simply a way of calming down some students with behavior disorders, a common practice. Had he been convicted of even one count of child molestation, he would have had to face up to 8 years in state prison (and up to 16 years if a pattern of abuse could have been proved) and a strike under the California Three Strikes Law.
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