UPDATE: No Criminal Charges for Former Principal in Connection with Teacher’s Alleged Abuse

April 19, 2014 9:00 am · 27 comments

The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to file criminal charges against a former Concord elementary school principal accused of failing to contact police after receiving reports of possible sexual misconduct by teacher Joseph Martin.

Former Woodside Elementary School principal Jennifer Sachs will not face criminal charges for her handling of Martin’s alleged abuse of multiple students in 2006. District officials conducted an internal investigation into the allegations in 2006 but never reported the suspected abuse to authorities, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou.

Martin was arrested last June and has since been charged with 150 felony counts stemming from the alleged molestation of 14 current and former students, according to the district attorney’s office.

He remains in county jail in Martinez and is awaiting trial, which is set for May 27.

According to a Concord police report, Sachs oversaw Martin in 2006 and received multiple complaints from other teachers about his alleged inappropriate conduct toward students but failed to report the allegations to police or Child Protective Services.

But prosecutors said in a statement that the statute of limitations for failure to report is one year, making Sachs ineligible for prosecution.

In addition, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office, there is “insufficient evidence to prove Ms. Sachs intentionally knew, or harbored reasonable suspicion, of abuse by Mr. Martin of his students in 2006.”

Sachs, who is now an administrator with Pittsburg Unified School District, could not immediately be reached for comment.

District Attorney Mark Peterson met with several school superintendents at a Contra Costa County Office of Education meeting on Thursday to discuss a proposal to provide comprehensive training for school staff to ensure they are aware of their state-mandated responsibility to report suspected child abuse.

Superintendents from the Brentwood Union, Martinez Unified and Moraga school districts volunteered to take part in the fledgling program, according to the county education office.

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

Once a Woodside Elementary Mom April 19, 2014 at 9:19 AM

She damn well knew!!!! I was one of the parents who went to her about him and she basically brushed me off and said “he’s harmless” well guess he’s not so harmless now!!!! KARMA will get her!!!!

Silva April 19, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Statute of limitations is one year? RIDICULOUS. WTF is wrong with her?

Outraged April 19, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Hopefully the Pittsburg School district fires her. She should not be allowed to work around children when she failed to protect them.

anon April 19, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Give her the boot. There’s too much of this happening. Zero tolerance for this kind of leadership.

Wish we had a better DA April 19, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Mark won’t get my vote, but he’ll still win another term.

I'll be sure to share this information..... April 19, 2014 at 10:13 AM

with my Pittsburg friends. I suggest you all do the same.

another anon April 19, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Is there a statute of limitations on civil suits? If not, sue the hell out of her and MDUSD!!!

Pittsburg Unified Employee April 19, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Jenn Sachs is now the Director of Categorical Funding for PUSD and works in the district office. I see her often. She has mentioned that she used to be a principal in MDUSD, but I had no clue that she was involved in the Woodside scandal. She seems like a genuinely nice lady.

PUSD also has it’s share of molesters. Last year, they proudly announced that a man named Angelo Luster (who had previously worked with Connie Spinnato– an assistant or vice principal at PHS in Hayward schools) would be working with the African American boys who were having behavior and academic issues. Just a few months later, he was arrested and brought up on charges for pedophilia with some of the boys (not sure if the victims were in Pittsburg or elsewhere). PUSD tries to keep a tight lid on its mistakes. They tell their employees very little.

anon April 19, 2014 at 10:54 AM

MDUSD never fires anyone. They just transfer the bad employees like the Principal from Mt Diablo High. She’s still an Administrator even after she was voted no confidence by the teachers.

Silva April 19, 2014 at 11:43 AM

@#8, She may be a completely genuinely nice lady, and yet a faliure in her duty to protect her charges from a pedophile. That’s inexcusable.

Shiloh April 19, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Woodside Elemantary mom: can you please elaborate just a tiny bit? I’m not asking for personal details, but people are saying that she failed these children who will have to live with this abuse for the rest of their lives, etc. When I google this case I see that he seems to have been accused of touching boys near their collar bone area. I have also spoken with someone with intimate knowledge of the case who says there was no sexual contact at all, as far as touching of private parts. For the people who are so up in arms and disgusted by this teacher, principal and the case in general, where are you getting your information? I don’t mean that sarcastically. I’m just wondering what everyone knows that has them so upset? I’m not saying there was no abuse, but is there an article or a police report that others have seen that gives more detail about what actually happened?

Jas April 19, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Regardless of charges or no charges, I hope she hates herself for failing those children. They needed her, and she brushed them off. I hope that eats away at her for the rest of her life.

Pittsburg Unified Employee April 19, 2014 at 1:19 PM

@Silva I agree. As a mandated reporter myself, I can’t imagine not calling the authorities to report a teacher suspected of harming children. Under no circumstances was I suggesting that what she’s done (or has been accused of doing) is ok.

Once a Woodside Elementary Mom April 19, 2014 at 3:04 PM

@ Shiloh I don’t need to get into details about the conversations I had with Jennifer Sachs about this monster. My child was in his class and I didn’t like what I saw simple as that. So that’s where I get my information from!

Silva April 19, 2014 at 3:21 PM

@Pittsburgh Unified Employee, Sorry, I didn’t mean to call you our on anything you said.

Stan April 19, 2014 at 4:00 PM

From my own children, who were exposed to this monster. All it takes for evil to perpatrate is for good people to do nothing. That is exactly what this Bit@& did, NOTHING. Many people told her about this monster, she should be in prison with Martin since she knows that he is harmless. Trust that she will be sued, and I hope she spends the rest of her life homeless.
Evil witch

waverunner April 19, 2014 at 4:04 PM

This sort of sounds like the Catholic church – move ’em around from place to place.

SeekingJustice April 19, 2014 at 7:01 PM

#11 Shiloh –

Your comments show your lack of knowledge of this case. Let me enlighten you as much as I feel comfortable. Let’s think logically about this. Would Joseph Martin be sitting – for almost a year now – on 150 felony charges of “lewd and lascivious” acts upon a minor – for simply touching a boy’s collarbone???? Really???

Two of my sons are victims – not only of Joseph Martin – but of a School District that failed to ensure their safety. They were sexually victimized, as well as the other boys. It’s not my place to share the details on behalf of anyone – but YES they were sexually victimized. In private places. Need I say more?

That was the physical trauma suffered. I promise you – the emotional trauma – suffered at the hands of this man……. by educators and others that failed to report……… and now from a DA’s office that’s just covering other government entity’s behind – is just about as much as this family can take.

So – before you leave comments on a blog/website on a situation you know NOTHING about – think twice about who’s reading it (actual VICTIMS)….. and the fact that you really don’t know what you are talking about.

Grandma April 19, 2014 at 10:19 PM

I agree with seeking justice .. Just put yourself in family place , how would you react if teacher touch your child .. The DA running for office again I’m just one person , put I will work hard against him ,..why parents at Woodside don’t take a stand against is beyond me …..

Shiloh April 19, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Thanks for all of your responses. I am sorry my questions were offensive.

Shelly April 20, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Shilo, I know nothing of the case, but when I Googled it I noticed that the defense attorney was who was saying the collar bone and friendly pat stuff, and also noticed the length of time Martin has been jailed. They just don’t keep you that long for nothing. More awful details will come out at the trial. I’m sorry to the people who’re dealing with this terrible thing. I was abused as a child in the worse way, one time by a stranger. It was long ago, and many things were different then, and I didn’t feel I could tell anyone. I’ve suffered a lifetime now. I understand that these days great help is available, and I sincerely hope ALL of the victims get it.

Shelly April 20, 2014 at 7:05 AM

Well, I guess it could always be worse.

SeekingJustice April 20, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Grandma #19 –

Thank you for your comments. Never underestimate the value of one person and what they can do. Especially a mother or grandmother (and then especially one who’s children have been hurt).

Your comment about Woodside?? I have no answer for that, as I’ve pulled my children out of Woodside, though it’s a block from home. There are still teachers that failed to report. One of those main teachers is back to substitute teaching there. Beyond me how anyone would be ok with that. Among life’s questions that I have no answer to. (and – again – there are great people at Woodside, that remain my friends…..).

To everyone – please know the DA is up for reelection and use your voice on this matter. This should be on the minds of anyone at all that has a child in a school system as Educator Sexual Abuse is running rampant (and I know there are wonderful Educators, I do; unfortunately, there are also those that use this avenue to hurt children. Read the paper on a weekly basis and we can all see that). Use your voice to let the DA know that it’s not ok not to fully prosecute those that commit crimes against children – be molestation OR failure to report.

Actually, on second thought, it should be on the minds of anyone that has a moral compass and cares about our next generation.

Anonalalon April 21, 2014 at 9:02 PM

It’s every teacher there who said they had a bad feeling. Some even have admitted they know and complained .. They are just as culpable as Sachs is, as none of them reported to authorities either. Nina Pate and the rest ,get them out of the district once and for all. Suing will never help these kids but let it set a precedent and tone that it will never happen again.

Former Woodside Student April 24, 2014 at 11:40 AM

I went to Woodside and I used to love Mrs. Sachs, its unfortunate that all of us kids loved her and clearly she just loved Mr. Martin’s STAR test results. It’s disgusting thinking about how she knew something was wrong and did nothing. I can still remember playing on the jungle gym and some of the kids talking about how Mr. Martin was weird. His room always creeped me out too, it was always dark with christmas lights every time I ever went in there. Heebie jeebies for sure.

@Seeking Justice April 24, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Why are you criticizing the DA? The article states that the principal cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. It’s the law.

Rose April 24, 2014 at 1:28 PM

It;s all excuses.

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