A former Hoover High School teacher’s aide gave a special-needs student alcohol and marijuana before having sex with him, a Fresno police detective testified Friday in Fresno County Superior Court.
And when the 17-year-old student didn’t want to engage in sex, Theresa Ramirez paid him $300 to do it, Detective Derek Avila said.
Ramirez’s lawyer, Jane Boulger, shook her head in disbelief at the allegations. She said Ramirez is innocent and the alleged victim’s parents are only looking for “big money” in a lawsuit against Ramirez’s employer, Fresno Unified School District.
But after listening to the detective’s testimony, Judge John Vogt ordered Ramirez, 36, to stand trial on three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor, one felony count of oral copulation, and one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
If convicted, Ramirez faces up to five years in prison and might have to register as a sex offender. Ramirez remains free on $45,500 bail.
Prosecutor Nicole Galstan contends Ramirez started having an unlawful sexual relationship with the 16-year-old boy in 2015.
For the first time, details were made public about the alleged affair between a high school junior and Ramirez, the mother of two children. But it was also revealed that her accuser initially denied having sex with her. The accuser also told police he drank alcohol and smoked pot before ever meeting Ramirez and was taking medication for attention deficit disorder.
In addition, Avila testified that the boy has been hospitalized before for being “5150,” which refers to a California Welfare and Institutions Code section that allows police to involuntarily confine people who are a danger to themselves or to others.
In his ruling, Vogt only had to find probable cause – that it’s more likely than not that a crime was committed. At trial, a jury must find that a crime was committed beyond a reasonable doubt, a higher legal standard.
During the hearing, prosecutor Nicole Galstan contended Ramirez started having the unlawful relationship in 2015 when the boy was 16 years old. Ramirez was later fired from her teacher’s aide job for failing to report to work nearly a year before her arrest in August 2016, the school district has said.
Avila testified that the boy told him that he and Ramirez had sex in her apartment near Einstein Park on several occasions. Avila testified that Ramirez would sometimes drive the boy from Hoover High to her apartment to have sex. Other times, the boy would show up at Ramirez’s apartment with friends. While his friends drank and smoked marijuana, the alleged victim and Ramirez had sex in her bedroom, Avila testified.
But Boulger pointed out that Ramirez lives with two sons, including one who was in high school at the time, and a roommate. On cross-examination from Boulger, Avila testified the roommate and one of the alleged victim’s friends have told police that nothing inappropriate happened at Ramirez’s home.
A detective testified that the alleged victim has been hospitalized before for being ‘5150,’ or a danger to himself or others.
Boulger said Ramirez was trying to help the boy, who lived with his parents and six siblings in a cramped home. She invited him over to her house to do homework and to celebrate his birthday, testimony revealed.
But during the hearing a key piece of evidence emerged – the boy knew Ramirez had a tattoo of a butterfly on her buttocks. Avila testified the boy saw it while he and Ramirez were having sex. But Boulger said people often talk about their tattoos, and Ramirez likely told the boy about hers.
In one incident, Avila said, the boy told him that Ramirez was helping him with his math homework while her young son watched television. Avila said the boy recalled Ramirez putting her hand on his thigh and making him feel uncomfortable. The boy said he pushed her hand away and got up to leave, but Ramirez asked him to stay, Avila said.
The boy said they then went into Ramirez’s bedroom, where she took off his clothes and then hers. The boy, who stands about 5-foot-8 with a thin build, said he thought about leaving, but the 4-foot-9, 112-pound Ramirez wouldn’t let him, Avila testified. The boy said Ramirez then pushed him onto the bed and had sex with him for nearly an hour, the detective testified.
In another incident, Avila said, the boy told him that he and his friends went over to Ramirez’s home to drink beer and Hennessy cognac and smoke pot. While his friends were in the living room, the boy said, he had sex with Ramirez in her bedroom.
Around his 17th birthday in May 2016, Ramirez threw a party for the boy, Avila testified. The detective said the boy told him that his friends drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in the living room, while he went into Ramirez’s bedroom and found her naked.
If convicted, Ramirez faces up to five years in prison and might have to register as a sex offender.
Avila said the boy told him that he didn’t want to have sex, so Ramirez offered him $300 to do it. The boy said he and Ramirez had sex and she paid him $300. But Avila also said the boy never showed police the $300 or told detectives what he spent it on. “It was never confirmed” that he received it, Avila testified.
After police and school officials learned of the alleged affair in August, Avila said he asked the boy to call Ramirez two times. During the calls, Avila said he was able to hear the entire conversation.
In one call, Avila said Ramirez told the boy to “deny the whole thing because it would ruin her life and get her in trouble with the legal system.” In the other conversation, Avila said Ramirez told the boy “to be smart about it and deny everything. If you deny everything they don’t have a case.”
But the boy also told Ramirez several times that he loved her. “Don’t you love me?” he asked, according to Avila.
In the telephone conversation, Ramirez never said she loved him, the detective testified.