General Crime

School Teacher Appears in Court as DA Decides Whether to Re-try on Alleged Lewd and Lascivious Acts with Former Students

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Contra Costa County prosecutors are still mulling whether to re-try a Concord elementary school teacher charged with lewd and lascivious acts with former students. Joseph Martin, a 46-year-old Martinez resident and former Woodside Elementary School teacher, appeared in a Martinez courtroom today at a hearing to schedule a new trial.

Dressed in a yellow county jail jumpsuit and speaking to his attorney, Patrick Clancy, from behind a courtroom partition today, Joseph Martin remains in custody on $10 million bail. Several of Martin’s family members attended the hearing today. Martin’s afternoon court appearance came nearly a month after a judge declared a mistrial when a jury deadlocked on the majority of the charges against Martin, who was accused of inappropriately touching 14 male former students.

The longtime teacher was arrested in June 2013 and charged with 150 counts of lewd and lascivious acts against children. Prosecutors later dropped 34 charges and a jury last month found Martin not guilty of 21 charges in connection with three of the purported victims. The jury couldn’t reach an agreement on more than 90 similar charges tied to 11 more victims, prompting the mistrial. Clancy said he will ask a judge to lower Martin’s bail amount from the current $10 million to $100,000 at a hearing in two weeks. He said prosecutors are speaking with the victims’ families before deciding whether to re-try the case.

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts portrayed Martin as a pedophile who used his position as a teacher to get closer to certain male students. The jury also heard testimony from the purported victims, most who are now in high school who recalled from the witness stand how Martin would touch them underneath their shirts, sometimes had them sit on his lap, gave them gifts and told them he loved them.

But during his own testimony, Martin insisted that he never touched his students inappropriately and that his statements of love were purely platonic. Clancy argued that Martin was a dedicated teacher and the victim of “mass hysteria” and exaggerations by gossipy colleagues and parents that spiraled out of control. The attorney said the Martinez resident, a father of two, is unlikely to return to teaching upon his release.

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