National City 'Teacher of Year' Pleads Not Guilty to 15 Felony Child Sex Abuse Counts

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San Diego ‘Teacher of the Year’ Re-Arrested on 15 Felony Sex Abuse Counts

San Diego ‘Teacher of the Year’ Re-Arrested on 15 Felony Sex Abuse Counts

Mar 14, 2023

A National City educator and former San Diego County “Teacher of the Year” who is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 13-year-old former student pleaded not guilty to 15 felony charges including child sex abuse and child pornography charges.

National City ‘Teacher of Year’ Pleads Not Guilty to 15 Felony Child Sex Abuse Counts

Jacqueline Ma, 34, a Lincoln Acres Elementary school teacher, was in court Monday via a video appearance before a judge. Ma was arrested last week on a National City elementary school campus and eventually released on $100,000 bail. The former teacher of the year was then re-arrested on Thursday and taken into custody for additional alleged crimes, according to a report from the Times of San Diego.

The second arrest came after NCPD detectives surveilled the former teacher and said they developed probable cause. Ma was arrested in the 3300 block of National Avenue in the City of San Diego and has been held at Las Colinas Detention Facility ever since,” NBC San Diego reported.

Some of the felony charges against Ma include:

  • Three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14

  • Three counts of oral copulation with a child under 14

  • Child pornography possession

  • Sexual exploitation of a child

  • Preventing or dissuading a witness or victim

San Diego Deputy District Attorney Drew Hart reportedly argued to keep Ma in custody without bail. Hart described the defendant as “obsessive, possessive, controlling, and dangerous” toward the former student, thus presenting a danger to him if released, according to the Times of San Diego. As the National City teacher faces up to 29 years in state prison if convicted of all charges, Hart also argued Ma was a flight risk.

According to Hart, the sequence of events involved in Ma’s inappropriate student relationship included:

  • Beginning a sexual relationship with the boy starting when he was 12 years old

  • Sending him illicit photographs of herself

  • Requesting he record himself committing sex acts

Additionally, Hart asserted:

  • A photograph of the boy was found in Ma’s wallet after her arrest.

  • Ma had jewelry bearing the boy’s initials, as well as love letters to the former student that were discovered in her classroom.

  • The pair communicated over messaging apps that concealed their communications.

  • Ma tried to contact the victim after bailing out of jail following her first arrest (the nature of that contact was not disclosed, however).

“When she was arrested, she had a photograph of the victim in her wallet, she had jewelry with his initials, love letters were discovered in her classroom. In some of the messages, she expressed frustration at the child for not responding to the situation quicker. She expressed jealousy when the victim was talking to other girls,” Deputy District Attorney Hart said Monday.

Ma’s defense attorney, Mario Vela, reportedly asked the court to release the award-winning educator on her own recognizance. Vela argued that Ma’s lack of criminal history and longtime residency in Southern California ensured that she would not be a flight risk.

Vela “said she did not represent a danger to the alleged victim and described the allegations as ‘isolated incidents and isolated events,’” according to the Times of San Diego.

“I don’t believe that the people are able to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the most restrictive means is that she remains in custody, especially on a no bail hold,” Attorney Vela added.

Superior Court Judge Carlos Varela ultimately ordered Ma to remain held without bail, citing her placement in a “position of trust” toward the victim and that one of the lewd acts counts involves duress, the Times of San Diego reported.

“Officials with the National School District said in a statement that Ma has since been placed on leave ‘and will not be returning to the campus,'” the newspaper said.

NBC San Diego reported that Ma is due back in court on March 16 for a bail review hearing.

“Prosecutors, who have only identified a single alleged victim in the case, told NBC 7 that there is still an ongoing investigation and there may be more charges added in the future.”

In August 2022, Ma was one of five teachers named as San Diego County’s Teachers of the Year. She has taught fifth and sixth grades in the National School District since 2013, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

How Common is Teacher/School Sexual Abuse?

Unfortunately, the true extent of school sexual abuse in America is likely misrepresented and undercounted given how common it is for survivors to choose to either not report crimes or do so years after the incident(s) occurred.

U.S. School Sexual Assault Statistics for 2023

Some of the confirmed statistics on school sexual abuse in America include:

  • The National Center for Education Statistics found that 9.6% of American students reported being the victim of sexual harassment or assault by school staff at some point in their lives.

  • According to the DOJ, another 10.3% of school sex abuse survivors reported that the perpetrator was another student.

  • A survey conducted by nonprofit organization Stop It Now found that approximately one in 10 children are sexually abused before the age of 18.

  • Furthermore, Stop It Now found that that 23% of these child sex abuse cases occur in a school setting.

  • The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) conducted a study which found that up to 50% of students with disabilities experience some form of sexual abuse.

  • Additionally, the NASP found that when such crimes occur, school personnel are often the perpetrators.

  • The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) found that approximately 10% of student survivors of rape and sexual assault reported that the perpetrator was a school employee.

  • A survey by the American Association of University Women found that 83% of girls and 79% of boys experience some form of sexual harassment or assault in school.

CDC Survey Finds Sexual Violence Against Teen Girls Increased Significantly

In its Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the following statistics pertaining to teenage sexual violence:

  • Nearly three in five teen girls (roughly 57%) feel persistently sad or hopeless (the highest rate in a decade)

  • 30% of teen girls have seriously considered dying by suicide (a significant increase from the percentage recorded 10 years ago).

  • One in five teen girls reported experiencing sexual violence in the past year.

  • 14% of all teenage girls had been forced to have sex (a staggering 27% increase since 2019).

The 2022 findings follow similar troubling trends:

  • In 2021, the CDC found nearly 20% of teenage girls said they had been victims of violent sexual behavior.

  • That same year, more than one in 10 had been raped, the study’s data confirmed.

The CDC’s study also indicated that emotional distress was particularly high among teenagers who identified as LGBTQ+. According to the CDC’s findings:

  • Nearly 70% of LGBQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

  • 52% had recently experienced poor mental health.

  • 45% had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, and 22% had attempted suicide in the past year.

  • Nearly one-quarter were bullied at school, and about 30% were bullied online in 2021.

Speak to a California School Sexual Abuse Attorney Today

In California, survivors of school sexual abuse may pursue civil claims (lawsuits) against negligent entities (either individually or collectively), such as:

  • The school

  • The school district

  • The teacher or employee who committed the actual crimes

Depending on the circumstances of a childhood sexual abuse survivor’s case, Dordulian Law Group’s (DLG) California school sex crimes attorneys will work tirelessly to hold all responsible parties accountable for their actions/liability.

Damages that may be awarded in a school sexual abuse claim include:

  • Pain and suffering

  • Psychological harm/Emotional trauma

  • Diminished quality of life

  • Counseling or therapy/mental health expenses (past and future)

  • Medical care costs (past and future)

  • Punitive damages

  • Reduced future earing capacity/Lost wages

If you suspect your child is being victimized by a teacher or coach, contact DLG’s proven sexual abuse attorneys for a free consultation by calling 866-GO-SEE-SAM. DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office who has garnered over 100 jury trial victories and helped obtain life sentences against some of the community’s most dangerous sexual predators.

Dordulian and his team of aggressive, skilled, and dedicated Los Angeles school sexual abuse lawyers are standing by 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and help you and your family take the first step toward securing justice for a sexual abuse case.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

To file your child’s school sexual abuse claim, contact DLG today at 866-GO-SEE-SAM.

Go See Sam