Former Central West High math teacher Michael Morton pleaded not guilty Monday to three felony charges, including unlawful sex with a minor, in his first appearance in Fresno County Superior Court since his arrest in March.
Morton, 40, of Fresno, also is charged with misdemeanor child molestation.
If convicted, he could go to prison and have to register as a sex offender.
After his entering his plea, Judge W. Kent Hamlin allowed Morton to remain free on $40,000 bail, said defense attorney Gerald Schwab.
Morton was arrested March 16 at Central West High after sheriff’s detectives received a report that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with a former student. The alleged activity took place in 2015, shortly after the 17-year-old girl had graduated from Central West, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said. Detectives also determined that none of the sexual activity between Morton and the victim took place on school grounds.
Math teacher Michael Morton, 40, was arrested March 16 at Central West High School in Fresno after sheriff detectives received a report that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with a former student.
A criminal complaint charges Morton with having unlawful sex with a minor in July 2015. The minor is identified in court papers as Jane Doe I.
Morton also is accused of molesting another girl, identified as Jane Doe II, from November 16, 2013, to Jan. 15, 2014. Information about Morton’s conduct with the second alleged victim was not immediately available.
In addition, Morton faces two felony charges of distributing or showing pornography to a minor from incidents in 2007 and 2008.
Morton began working for Central Unified School District in August 2006. When he was arrested, the school district issued this statement: “Effective immediately, Mr. Morton is no longer an employee with Central Unified School District. We are fully cooperating with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and will continue to do so through the course of its investigation.”