RICHMOND (CBS SF) — A Richmond charter school teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child molestation and is now charged with 29 counts of child molestation, according to the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office.
Anessa Paige Gower, 35, is a biology professor at Making Waves Academy. She was arrested Wednesday morning in Sacramento while returning from vacation in Hawaii, according to the district attorney’s office.
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Prosecutors allege Gower engaged in “numerous” acts of a sexual nature with seven minors between 2021 and 2022, according to a statement released Friday by the district attorney’s office.
The allegations include sexual acts with minors, inappropriate touching and the sharing of sexual photos on online platforms.
Gower is in custody on bail set at $1.9 million.
The Managing Director of Making Waves Academy, Alton B. Nelson, Jr., released the following statement after news of the arrest became public.
There is nothing more important than the health, safety and well-being of our students. During an investigation into allegations that one of our teachers violated school policy, we learned of other very concerning allegations regarding the conduct of this teacher. We immediately shared this information with authorities looking into the matter. This teacher is no longer employed by Making Waves Academy and we have reached out to parents, students and teachers to provide support where it may be needed. At this time, we cannot make any further comments.
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This isn’t the first time the charter school has had a teacher arrested for sexual assault.
In 2017, sixth-grade science and math teacher Ronald Guinto was convicted of assaulting more than a dozen victims over several years, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
In 2002, Guinto lured his first victim, a then 12-year-old boy, through an AOL chat room to sneak out of his home. Prosecutors said Guinto assaulted the boy multiple times in Santa Clara and Solano counties.
Guinto was found guilty of 87 of the 90 counts he was charged with, including child molestation, witness deterrence and kidnapping, according to prosecutors. He was later sentenced to more than 900 years in prison
Twelve of his former Making Waves Academy students received a combined $10.9 million settlement after suing the school, an attorney has said.
The Making Waves Academy is currently closed for Spring Break.
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