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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 5th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 30

St. Joseph administrators found guilty of failing to report suspected child abuse

BY JEREMY THOMAS AND AMY ASMAN

After four days of testimony, jurors in Santa Maria determined the fate of two St. Joseph High School officials accused of failing to report a suspected sexual assault of an underage female student.

The jury found St. Joseph principal Joseph Myers and former dean of students John Walker guilty of failing to report the alleged rape of a 17-year-old student. Walker was found not guilty of a separate charge relating to the alleged abuse or neglect of a 14-year-old student.

Appearing before Judge Edward Bullard dressed in a pink shirt and yellow tie, Walker appeared stunned as the verdict was read. Myers shook his head. Walker angrily left the courtroom without commenting.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Myers told the press immediately after the verdict. “Everything I’ve ever done in my life, I’ve tried to do the right thing. I respect the opinion of the court and the way the trial was conducted, but the fact of the matter is [Walker and I] were put in a very difficult situation.”

The alleged victim, who sat with her parents in the gallery, was seen crying after the verdict was announced.

In July, prosecutors charged Walker and Myers, who are mandated reporters by law, with failing to report a suspected sexual assault on a then 16-year-old student by former St. Joseph student Shane Villalpando and another underage male classmate.

In her closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson accused Walker and Myers of willfully deciding not to report the suspected incident, and said they were guilty of the misdemeanor, regardless of whether or not they were told not to report the alleged rape by the alleged victim and her parents.

“If you have reasonable suspicion, you have to make a call. You are not allowed to stick your head in the sand,” Nudson said.

Walker and Myers both face six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. They are scheduled to appear again in court on Oct. 30.