Wednesday, September 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / Breaking News

PVHS teacher arrested on suspicion of having sex with a minor


The Santa Maria Police Department announced in a press release Feb. 20 that officers arrested a Pioneer Valley High School teacher on suspicion of sexually assaulting a minor.

According to the department, Santa Maria Joint Unified School District personnel told law enforcement Wednesday afternoon that sexual assault allegations had been made against Brian Hook, a social science teacher and basketball coach at the school.

Tracy Marsh, the district's assistant superintendent of human resources, said school principal Shanda Herrera contacted authorities immediately about the potential misconduct after someone anonymously brought it to her attention.

"Our main concern is that the students we have on campus feel safe," Marsh said, adding that incidents like this are something "you hope ... never happens to your district, but unfortunately it did."

Police said the alleged assaults occurred over the last four months. The name of the victim is being withheld for privacy and safety reasons.

According to the department, officers arrested Hook the morning of Feb. 20 at his home in Orcutt, where they also served a search warrant. Authorities also used the SMPD crime lab to search several other locations.

Hook was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail with three felony charges: oral copulation of a minor, unlawful intercourse with a minor, and penetration with a foreign object with a minor.

Detective Paul Van Meel told the Sun the department has "nothing to indicate that [the assault] has anything to do with his position with the basketball team."

Added Marsh, "Of course, it's 'innocent until proven guilty.' It's still a man's reputation we're talking about. And, of course, our hearts go out to those affected by [the incident]--the students, parents, and the basketball team."

He said the school is offering counseling services to anyone who needs to talk.

The investigation is ongoing.

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What are the most important conversations to be having right now when it comes to policing?

We need to address how racial bias influences policing.
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Mental health is where our dollars need to go, both in and out of the police department.
As one Sept. 20 community input meeting attendee said,

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