Sex Crime

Frank Joseph Montenegro Jr. Alleged Child Molest Suspect Arrested After 14 years On The Run

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 A former Fremont elementary school teacher who faces 13 felony  counts for allegedly molesting two young students nearly 20 years ago was  accused of masturbating in court today but a judge denied a defense motion  for a mistrial in his case.   Frank Montenegro’s attorney, Todd Bequette, was cross-examining  one of the alleged victims in the case when prosecutor Amanda Chavez suddenly  asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy for a hearing outside  the presence of jurors.

  After jurors left the courtroom, Chavez said she’d noticed that  Montenegro’s left hand was inside his pants and suggested he might have been  masturbating.   Montenegro, 53, angrily accused Chavez of “just hassling me” and  denied doing anything improper, saying, “I’m not even thinking about that.”  

Murphy said he couldn’t tell if Montenegro was masturbating but he  said Montenegro’s claim that his hands weren’t underneath the defense table  was “a flat-out misstatement” because he said Montenegro’s hands clearly were  under the table during at least part of the alleged victim’s testimony.   Murphy added that Chavez “saw some things and I have no reason to  doubt what she says.”  

Bequette then asked for a mistrial, saying, “I’m very concerned  given the nature of this case” that jurors might not give Montenegro a fair  trial if they saw him doing anything improper.   Murphy called for a recess to do some legal research on the matter  and then denied the motion for a mistrial, saying that court rulings say that  a defendant shouldn’t be granted a mistrial based on his own misconduct in  court.  

He added, “I’m not even saying something even happened” in court  today that was improper.   Murphy then questioned jurors individually at a closed hearing in  his chambers to see if any of them had observed any conduct by Montenegro  that caused them any concern.  

Back in open court, the judge said, “Nothing of that sort occurred  and there was nothing that was made known to me to support the motion for a  mistrial.”   Montenegro’s trial will now resume on Wednesday morning with  Bequette continuing to question the alleged victim in the case, who’s now 26.  

Montenegro was charged in 2001 with molesting the two students,  who were between the ages 8 and 11, multiple times between 1998 and 2001  while he was an elementary school teacher with the Fremont Unified School  District.   But Montenegro, who had worked for the district since 1988, fled  the Bay Area for 14 years until FBI fugitive task force members found him and  arrested him in the Los Angeles area on Aug. 15, 2015.  

There’s already been one mistrial in Montenegro’s case because  Bequette objected to Chavez’s comment to jurors in her opening statement in  Montenegro’s first trial on Feb. 14 that when FBI agents handcuffed  Montenegro “he refused to say one word.”   Bequette asked for a mistrial, saying that court rulings have  established that prosecutors aren’t allowed to comment to jurors about a  defendant exercising his right against self-incrimination.  

Murphy granted the motion for a mistrial, dismissed those jurors  and began selection for a new jury panel the following day.   A new jury was selected and Montenegro’s second trial began last  Wednesday.   Montenegro is charged with 13 felony counts, including aggravated  sexual assault of a child, committing lewd acts upon a child and sodomy on a  child.   The other victim in the case, who’s now 27, testified last week.      

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Frank Joseph Montenegro Jr. Alleged Child Molest Suspect Arrested After 14 years On The Run

The FBI has arrested a former elementary school teacher wanted for 14 years in connection with several counts of sexual assault against children in Northern California.

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller says Frank Joseph Montenegro was taken into custody Wednesday in Los Angeles after a foot chase and a struggle with members of the agency’s fugitive task force.

The 52-year-old was charged in Alameda County in 2001 with multiple counts of sodomy of a child under 14, oral copulation and continued sexual abuse of a minor. The charges came after an investigation by detectives in Fremont.

The FBI joined the search after police discovered the suspect had fled to Mexico.

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