Former Woodside Elementary Principal Won’t be Charged for Allegedly Failing to Report Suspected Child Molestation

April 18, 2014 15:42 pm · 23 comments


The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office will not be issuing criminal charges against former Woodside Elementary School Principal Jennifer Sachs, regarding her handling of the conduct of teacher Joseph Martin, in 2004-2006, and any alleged “failure to report” suspected child abuse to the Concord Police Dept.

The following information is from the Office of Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson:

Before making this decision, the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the Concord Police Department’s report regarding its investigation of Sachs, as well as memorandums of investigations and conferences conducted by Mt. Diablo Unified School District officials in 2006.

The initial bar to a criminal prosecution for a failure to report by Sachs (or of any Mt. Diablo Unified School District official, for that matter) is the statute of limitations. The crime of failing to report to law enforcement authorities a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect is punishable as a misdemeanor. Prosecution for a misdemeanor offense must begin within one year of the failure to report, per the statute of limitations. The acts alleged in this Concord Police Department investigation show that any alleged criminal violations by Ms. Sachs or others, with respect to their alleged failure to report, took place back in 2006. Therefore, the statute of limitations bars any criminal prosecution of Ms. Sachs for her alleged failure to report conduct back in 2006. Further, the statute of limitations is only “tolled” if it can be proven that the person intentionally concealed their failure to report an incident known by the mandated reporter to be abuse. (Penal Code section 11166 c). Such is not the case here.

Additionally, a prosecutor may prosecute an individual only where there is sufficient evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, there is insufficient evidence to prove Ms. Sachs intentionally knew, or harbored reasonable suspicion, of abuse by Mr. Martin of his students in 2006. Nevertheless, the District Attorney’s Office reminds all mandated reporters that where there is actual knowledge, or reasonable suspicion, of child abuse or neglect, they are obligated to report to law enforcement and child welfare officials.

District Attorney Mark Peterson met on April 17th with numerous School District Superintendents in Contra Costa County and county schools Superintendent Joe Ovick to discuss comprehensive training of school employees to make certain every employee understands their mandated reporting responsibilities.

The goal of the Office of District Attorney is that our office, together with law enforcement agencies, and school officials, can develop a uniform, effective training program for all of the mandated reporters in each of the school districts in this county, which will ensure that suspected child abuse is properly reported as soon as possible.

RELATED STORYEXCLUSIVE: Woodside Elementary Teacher Joe Martin Arrested for Sex Crimes Against Several Children

He should be charged April 18, 2014 at 4:04 PM

just like a co-conspirator in a murder case and receive the same punishment as the accused.

dkjah'j April 18, 2014 at 4:47 PM

I can only imagine how that principal must feel. It doesn’t seem right however, considering the children will live with what happened to them forever. No statute of limitations on their experience. Why in the world wouldn’t a person in her position report this. Very sad.

Dorothy April 18, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Sorry, no excuse for not reporting it is good enough. dkjah’j #2 is right on the button that the children will live with it for the rest of their lives.

Rose Garden April 18, 2014 at 5:15 PM

I have no idea why a person in her position wouldn’t report this either, especially if it’s required by law.

My guess would be denial. It’s a long river in Egypt.

ANNONeeemoose April 18, 2014 at 5:31 PM

SICK! Jennifer, how can you live with yourself? Seriously. You are messed up! How could you? You’re a mom yourself!?!?!?!?!? Off on a technicality. Feel good now?

Pleasant Jenny April 18, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Didn’t I read somewhere that her family has some pull around here somewhere? Sorry to be so vague. This story makes me sick as 2 of my boys were in his class. Fortunately, they weren’t “pretty enough” to become a target. At least, that is what they say. Their awkward stages were very awkward. They are very handsome young adults now. If Mr. Martin had gotten a hold of my youngest, my blonde blue eyed beauty, I am sure he would have been a target. In fact, Mr. Martin used to tell me “I can’t wait to have (son) in my class!” Thank God we moved before that happened. And to think we were sad that all three boys would not have the same teacher.

Chronic Halitosis April 18, 2014 at 6:19 PM

How does anyone know what J Saks knew about Martin? I liked her. How do you prove unless you get caught in the act. I always thought something was weird about Martin. He had a little queer smile on his face …I though something was up for years…Oh no I’m told by my wife. Of course I could never prove anything but it was a sense something was off. When Statute of limitations protects the criminals in these cases…The statutes of limitations could be completely overlooked. Contra Costa County wrongly prosecutes innocent people everyday. What is the difference? If they wrongly prosecute a criminal. You can’t sue a city town or county that has with no money. Peterson I think you need to concentrate on these crimes in a more timely manner. Weed is legal in this state and has been since 1996 but still you spend a majority of the time trying to irradiate weed. Are you a dealer interested in keeping the price higher? Either that or a crooked moron. Peterson your ineptness is so bright maybe you should resign? I mean comrade Peterson Don’t you work for comrade Oliver Bray?

TinFoiler April 18, 2014 at 6:50 PM

If you’re going to dish it out on this Principal, Why not have the gonads and call out the roman cathoLICK church and All of their pedophilia and sex trade???
Look it up for yourself ~ I don’t need to hold your hand.

ANNONeeemoose April 18, 2014 at 7:03 PM

Chronic Halitosis, maybe you don’t understand “mandatory reporter.” Her position, put her in the “mandatory reporter” category which includes even suspicion. If a parent or student tells you something happened, you REPORT. Period.End.Of.Story. She reported it to district officials. SHE SHOULD have reported it to the POLICE. I knew her too. So what? She didn’t do the right thing.

And yes, jenny, her father was the interim superintendent of MDUSD , John Bernard.

Pleasant Jenny April 18, 2014 at 7:18 PM

@ Chronic, I liked her too. I just remember reading some nepotism stuff that I did not know about her before.

so where is she now? April 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM

what school or did she get promoted? Where is her Dad?

Pleasant Jenny April 18, 2014 at 7:39 PM

I think she knew or was at least suspicious. It was a pivotal time in her career. Any story/update we see on this simply confuses me more on the human race in general. From predator to principal. Thank God the decisions I have to make at work will never ever ever hurt a child.

Pleasant Jenny April 18, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Thank you, Annon…etc.. 🙂

hearsay April 18, 2014 at 8:06 PM

It really doesn’t matter how many degrees you have, and even if you become an engineer, you can be blind to everything around you. That’s no excuse for that pos who’s probably out with her retired father just taking it easy and sends best wishes for no reason at all. We have to open our eyes and take note of our surroundings. As adults we are duty bound to protect our children and listen to them.

funny man April 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Peter principle? She will be running the district in a few years!

Cowellian April 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM

TinFoiler, of all of your bizarre conspiracy theories, this is among the most outrageous. How does condemning this principal somehow mean that we approve of others who cover up child abuse?

mika April 18, 2014 at 10:32 PM

Sachs father was the interim MDUSD superintendent after Lawrence was fired.

FormerWoodsideParent April 19, 2014 at 12:38 AM

I knew her personally at Woodside from 2006-2008, and there is simply NO WAY she was ignorant of what Joe Martin was doing. If she didn’t know, she’s an idiot, and should never be given any kind of management position in any district ever again. Her career needs to be over – NOW. (See note below.)

From what I knew of her, Sachs was/is way too smart not to have known. In my opinion, she’s obviously bluffed/lied/power-played (through her father) her way into not being held accountable for her lack of action.

The sickening thing to me is that my son absolutely would have been targeted by Martin. (My son was the perfect profile of the boys Martin went after.) We moved and ended up transferring to Mountain View Elementary; my heart goes out to the victims and there families involved in this.

Shiloh April 19, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Is there more information about the alleged abide carried out by Joe Martin that I am not seeing?? I googled the case and all I see is that he put his hand on or near their collar area?

Shiloh April 19, 2014 at 7:14 AM

I meant “abuse”

Khloe April 19, 2014 at 12:46 PM

It’s a sad day for the victims but I’m sure she feels badly. I hope that she is a good person that made poor decisions.

@ HYPOCRITES April 19, 2014 at 12:59 PM

I am Catholic @ I actually found, “Catholic-lick” as clever and funny even though it’s a serious topic. I saw a documentary about the secrets of the Vatican & yes it is sad and unfortunately, a lot of it is true. The new guy has fired everybody & is cleaning house. I am grateful that we are teaching our youth to speak up so these sick A-Holes cannot get away with hurting our children anymore. I’m convinced that it is a disease that can never be cured.

Grandma April 19, 2014 at 9:17 PM

I’m really mad , this is outrages we protect the criminal and let our children pay the price for Mt Diablo School District , Principals /Teachers they did not do their job to protect them , what really sad the District knew this in 2006 ..
It is wrong of any teacher to touch a child , no teacher has the right to touch a child under their clothing period !!!
Woodside is wrong on the way they have protect Martian , principals
Teachers .. I would like too say more ,

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