A teacher at Highland High School in Palmdale, California was arrested on suspicion of molesting a 17-year-old male special needs student. According to reports, the student himself told officials at the school that there were multiple incidents throughout the month of September in which he was sexually assaulted by the teacher. The incidents allegedly took place in the classroom as well as the teacher’s car.
The suspect, was arrested and charged with several felonies which include sodomy on a minor, oral copulation on a minor, and meeting a minor for the purpose of committing a lewd act. He is being held on $325,000 bail as he awaits his trial.
Oral copulation on a minor is covered under California Penal Code 288a PC, and it’s a “wobbler,” meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Misdemeanor penalties carry a possible sentence of up to 1-year in county jail, while felony charges increase the penalty to up to 3 years in State prison. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions also require that the defendant register as a sex offender.
Meeting with a minor for lewd purposes is covered under California Penal Code 288.4 PC, and is described exactly how it sounds. It is prosecuted as a misdemeanor if the defendant has no prior criminal record, but it’s automatically a felony if the defendant has previously been required to register as a sex offender.
The possible misdemeanor penalties include informal probation, up to 1-year in county jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and the requirement to register as a sex offender. If convicted of felony-level violation of PC 288.4, the possible sentence includes formal probation as well as 1-year in county jail or 16-months to 3-years in State prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and a lifetime duty to register as a sex offender.