Matthew Pena, a former Clovis High School teacher accused of having sex with an underage student, pleaded not guilty Thursday, but his attorney said Pena likely “will acknowledge wrongdoing” later.
The 32-year-old former photography teacher, who also coached golf and baseball, is charged with four felony counts of sex with a minor and oral copulation. The alleged encounters happened between October and December 2014.
“He pled not guilty because I haven’t had an opportunity to look at any of the evidence,” said Pena’s lawyer, Michael Idiart. “It’s my feeling, based upon my conversations, Mr. Pena eventually will acknowledge wrongdoing, stand up for what he did and take the consequences.
“He knows what he did is wrong and he knows there’s accountability for that and he wants to take care of that situation and move on with his life. He recognizes that will not involve teaching or coaching.”
Another former Clovis High employee, Dwayne Andrews, 30, is accused of having sex with the same girl, who turned 18 in December. The former walk-on football coach and substitute teacher is charged with four felony counts of sex with a minor between May and August of last year.
Andrews previously pleaded not guilty. Both Pena and Andrews are free on bail and are due back in Fresno County Superior Court on March 23.
When asked if Andrews also admits wrongdoing, his attorney, Roger Nuttall, said Thursday, “It’s a very sensitive situation that we simply need to deal with in the regular court process.”
Idiart said he doesn’t expect Pena’s case will go to trial. Nuttall said it was too early to speculate about Andrews’ case.
Affidavits indicate the girl, who was not identified, had sex with the men at their homes. The student said she first had sex with Pena off campus during a lunch break. She moved in with Pena, his pregnant wife and their young daughter, occupying a spare bedroom.
The girl said she was romantically involved with Andrews from November 2013 to November of last year, but didn’t start having sex with him until May.