A 45-year-old teacher and coach at a middle school in San Francisco’s Marina District has been arrested and charged for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old female student, authorities said today.Marina Middle School teacher Stephen Pedersen was arrested Tuesday and pleaded not guilty today in San Francisco Superior Court to one count of continued sexual abuse of a child and three counts of committing lewd acts on a child, police and prosecutors said.Prosecutors allege that Pedersen, who taught language arts and social studies and was a volleyball coach, developed a romantic relationship with the girl that lasted more than a year.Prosecutors said Pederson took the girl on “romantic dates,” including movies, at various locations in the city.
“My client adamantly denies doing anything inappropriate,” Pedersen’s attorney Jim Collins said after today’s court hearing.The relationship was reported to school officials and police on Jan. 23 after a member of the school staff saw Pedersen allegedly kiss the girl after school in the gymnasium, authorities said.The female staffer reportedly saw “what appeared to be the end of a kiss and embrace,” San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said. Blythe said the school’s principal immediately notified police, child protective services and the student’s parents, and Pedersen was placed on administrative leave.The school district screens all prospective teachers for any past criminal history, Blythe said.”Through our checks with the FBI and the DOJ, he did not have any prior felonies or sex offenses,” Blythe said. Pedersen began teaching at the school in 2001, and has not taught at any other district schools, she said.”Any adult or student should feel comfortable speaking up if they have had any incident that they feel is questionable,” Blythe said. “We will investigate everything.”Pedersen remains in custody on $1 million bail and is due back in court April 8.
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