San Diego 'Teacher of the Year' Arrested on Suspicion of Child Sex Abuse

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‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested, Accused of Sex Crimes Against Former Student

‘Teacher of the Year’ Arrested, Accused of Sex Crimes Against Former Student

Mar 9, 2023

A local educator who had received an award as one of San Diego’s teachers of the year in 2022 was arrested Tuesday on a National City elementary school campus after investigators indicated she is suspected of having a sexual relationship with a former student, according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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In an email to parents – whom many media outlets reported were “stunned” by the allegations – National School District Superintendent Leighangela Brady confirmed the arrest Tuesday. According to various media reports, National City police arrested Jacqueline Ma, 34, around 8 a.m. at Lincoln Acres Elementary. Ma is a sixth grade teacher at the school, located on Lanoitan Avenue near E. 24th Street, the San Diego Union-Tribune said.

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department records confirm that Ma faces the following child sex abuse charges:

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

The former ‘Teacher of the Year‘ was booked at the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility, according to the sheriff’s department.

Superintendent Brady confirmed to NBC 7 that the district is only aware of one alleged victim and that the individual is not currently a student there, describing the unidentified survivor as a “former student” who “no longer attends our school.”

“Investigators have not detailed when the alleged abuse happened, but according to the National City Police Department, it launched an investigation after a parent reported concerns that their 13-year-old child possibly had an inappropriate relationship with a former teacher,” according to report from Fox 5.

Superintendent Brady released the following statement:

“At this time, we have immediate plans to secure a substitute to ensure minimal disruption to students’ learning. We know that our entire school community will be as stunned as we were by this news.”

In the email to parents, Brady added:

“We know that our entire school community will be as stunned as we were by this news… We want to assure you that the campus has remained calm, and students are focused on their typical day, and the dedicated teachers, support staff and we will continue to work together to keep the students’ well-being at the heart of our work.”

Brady said that the district is offering support to any students or staff processing the arrest, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Ma posted bail Tuesday night and was released from Las Colinas Detention Facility, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. She is scheduled to be in court of arraignment Tuesday, March 14.

In August, 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, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

How Common is Teacher Sexual Abuse?

Sadly, the Dordulian Law Group blog covers child sexual abuse stories involving teachers and schools practically every other week. In the past week alone, two school/teacher sex abuse stories involving local victims have made headlines:

In February, a safety officer employed by the Orange County School District David Escobar, 45 – was arrested for alleged child molestation.

Santa Ana Police officials received a report from an adult female victim who told authorities that Escobar had molested her when she was four years old. The victim indicated that Escobar was 20 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assault.

Last week, Pasadena Police arrested a McKinley Middle School teacher who is suspected of molesting a student.

Police identified the suspect as Michael Joseph Medina, 34, of Glendale. Medina is an eighth grade history teacher at McKinley School. Pasadena Police arrested him on March 1 at the McKinley campus on South Oak Knoll Avenue.

Police detained Medina, and he was subsequently booked on the following charges:

  • Lewd acts with a child
  • Oral copulation with a minor
  • Lewd acts with a minor under 14
  • Sending harmful matter to seduce a minor
  • Possession of child pornography

A recent study published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse confirms that an estimated 10% of students experience sexual misconduct by a school employee at some point during their school years. Additionally, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that over a recent four-year period, there were nearly 9,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct by school employees, (including teachers and administrators).

However, while studies indicate that child sex abuse in schools is indeed prevalent, unfortunately these statistics are likely an underestimate. In fact, many cases of teacher sex abuse go unreported due to fear of repercussions on the part of child survivors.

While most sexual predators are male, it’s important to remember that female teachers have been arrested and charged with inappropriate relationships with students.

In Texas, a former Independent School District teacher was accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student in 2021. Katrina Maxwell, 32, who taught at Houston-area C.E. King High School, was charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child. Investigators said the student reported knowing Maxwell since October 2020, and that the sexual relationship allegedly began over spring break in March 2021.

File Your Teacher or School Sexual Abuse Claim Today

If you are a survivor of school sexual assault or abuse, filing a civil claim with Dordulian Law Group (DLG) against your perpetrator can be a means of securing justice and recovering the financial compensation you deserve. A civil lawsuit is separate from any criminal proceedings, and you may file a claim regardless of whether or not any charges are ever filed by the local District Attorney’s Office.

When you contact DLG’s California school sex abuse attorneys for a free consultation, we will review your case and provide you with all available legal options. Moreover, we will fight 24/7 to secure all applicable damages for past harm endured by a teacher, principal, counselor, or coach:

  • Hospital expenses
  • Medical care/treatment costs (past and future)
  • Counseling or therapy expenses (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Prescription drug costs (past and future)
  • Emotional trauma/psychological harm
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Lost wages due to the sexual abuse
  • Lost earning capacity due to the sexual abuse
  • Punitive damages

How Much is a School Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Worth?

The value of a school sexual abuse lawsuit can vary according to certain factors, such as:

  • The degree of liability
  • Whether a cover-up occurred
  • The age of the child
  • The impact of the abuse on the child’s future
  • The skill and ability of the survivor’s school sexual abuse attorney

In 2022, several California school districts were ordered to pay damages or settled lawsuits stemming from allegations that administrators did not act swiftly to investigate employees accused of sexually abusing students:

  • Union School District
  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Riverside Unified School District
  • Pasadena Unified School District

Examples of recent California school sexual abuse lawsuits that have been settled and garnered major headlines include:

  • A San Jose school was ordered to pay $7.5 million to five men who were sexually abused by their elementary school teacher in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
  • Survivors of a former Sun Valley high school wrestling coach were awarded a $52 million settlement in October 2022. The complaint alleged that the Los Angeles Unified School District knew of prior sexual misconduct and did nothing about it.
  • A jury awarded $102.5 million in March 2022 to two women who sued a Northern California school district. The complaint alleged that officials failed to stop a middle school teacher from sexually grooming and abusing them as minors.
  • In April 2022, a $13.7 million settlement was reached with the Riverside Unified School District after 10 students alleged sexual abuse by former school technology aide Fernando Figueroa. The survivors ranged between the ages of 7 and 11 at the time of the abuse.
  • An $11 million school sex abuse settlement was reached between Redlands Unified School District and seven survivors. The plaintiffs, initially named in four separate lawsuits, accused a former Clement Middle School teacher, Sean Ramiro Lopez, of various sex crimes (Lopez is currently serving a 74-year prison sentence for sexual abuse).

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.

If you have questions about your school sexual abuse civil lawsuit, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today for a confidential consultation at 866-GO-SEE-SAM. DLG was founded by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County and current member of RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) National Leadership Council whose more than 25 years of experience includes obtaining life sentences against some of the area’s most dangerous sex offenders.

Call 866-GO-SEE-SAM today to take the first step toward getting the justice and maximum financial compensation you deserve for your school or teacher sexual abuse claim.

Go See Sam