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Regional Report: Contra Costa County, CA School Negligent Supervision & Sexual Abuse Allegations

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Estey Bomberger reviews and monitors news stories and reports of crime and lawsuits involving public and private schools nationwide. The following reports are for schools located in Contra Costa County, CA. If your child has been sexually abused or negligently supervised and you would like more information about your options or rights in a civil suit, contact us for a free consultation.

  • diabloviewDIABLO VIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL (CLAYTON)
    300 Diablo View Ln, Clayton, CA 94517
    Bruce Cottrell, 41,a Walnut Creek resident and math and science teacher at Diablo View Middle School, was arrested in December 2009 and charged with unlawful sexual intercourse, lewd acts with a child , and oral copulation with a juvenile. In June 2012, Cottrell took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to four counts of unlawful sex with a minor, and one count each of oral copulation with a minor younger than 16, lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, and possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and ordered to be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and have no contact with his victim. News Source: ABC Local, Contra Costa Times
  • heritagehighschoolHERITAGE HIGH SCHOOL (BRENTWOOD)
    101 American Avenue, Brentwood, CA 94513
    Darin Price, 39, a math teacher and girls basketball coach, at Heritage High School, tried to pay a 17-year-old student taking a math makeup test $200 to show him what he referred to has her “kitty.” The victim didn’t know what to do and tried to laugh it off. She told her parents about the incident, and her parents called police. Police used the victim’s phone to contact Price and set up a time to meet. He showed up at the designated spot with a bottle of strawberry vodka and $200 and a box of condoms. In 2011, Price was sentenced to 90 days in county jail, four years of formal probation, and required to register as a sex offender for life. News Sources: Fugitive.com, CBS San Francisco 
  • KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL (RICHMOND)
    4300 Cutting Boulevard, Richmond, CA 94804
    Patricia Petelo, 29, a teacher at Kennedy High School in Richmond, was arrested in October 2002 and charged with statutory rape of a 15-year-old male student. She pleaded no contest in February 2003 and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and probation. News Source: SF Gate
  •  LOMA VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (BRENTWOOD)
    2110 San Jose Avenue, Brentwood, CA 94513
    In May 2010, Dina Holder, 52, was a special education teacher at Loma Vista Elementary School. On May 25, 2010, one young pre-kindergarten boy failed to join a circle of students at Holder’s request, and she grabbed his arm and threw him to the floor from his desk and kicked him at least two times while screaming obscenities at him. About a dozen students and instructional aides watched. The boy was reportedly so upset he had to be carried to the bus at the end of school. The next morning, the boy’s mother noticed a bruise on his back. The first report of the incident came two days later when instructional aides from the boys’ classroom told the principal, who reported to district officials. The boys mother was told of the incident on June 1, 2010. The principal informed them that Holder had been placed on paid administrative leave and the incident would be investigated and kept confidential. The parents went to Brentwood police immediately after the meeting. Holder was arrested, pleaded no contest Oct. 6, 2011 to misdemeanor child abuse and was sentenced to four years probation. News Source: San Jose Mercury News
  • RICHMOND COLLEGE PREP ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (RICHMOND)
    217 S 11th St, Richmond, CA 94804
    Jeffrey Jones, 58, a teacher’s aide at Richmond College Prep elementary school, pleaded guilty in 2013 to two counts of lewd acts upon children that occurred between September 2010 and May 2011. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he was sentenced to five years in state prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender. News Source: Contra Costa Times
  • STANLEY MIDDLE SCHOOL (LAFAYETTE)
    3455 School Street, Lafayette, CA 94549
    Michael Merrick, 48, a teacher at Stanley Middle school, was arrested in October 2010 on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl that summer during private tutoring sessions in his classroom that were paid for by the victim’s parents. During the course of the investigation, police collected semen from his classroom couch and hundreds of inappropriate text messages Merrick sent to his victim. He had been scheduled to go to trial in January 2012 on 25 felony counts but instead took a plea deal and pleaded guilty to six felony counts of sex crimes against a minor. As part of the plea deal, Merrick had to admit wrongdoing and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison. News Source: Contra Costa Times
  • WOODSIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (CONCORD)
    761 San Simeon Drive, Concord, CA 94518
    Joseph Martin, 46, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Woodside Elementary School, was arrested at his home on June 27, 2013 after being accused of fondling boys’ chests. He was convicted on 19 counts in January 2015 and sentenced in March 2015 to 12 years in prison.  He could be released on parole as early as 2023. News Source: Contra Costa Times

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