Fresno police say Christopher Bispham was one of the more well-liked teachers at Fresno Adventist Academy.
But the trust and good favor he created at this Christian school was broken when several students came forward in 2017 and accused him of sexual assault.
Bispham, 30, is charged with 18 felonies, including oral copulation of a child 10 years or younger, lewd or lascivious act with a minor and sexual penetration with a foreign object.
Judge Mark Cullers ruled on Tuesday there was enough evidence for Bispham to stand trial. He faces 260 years to life in prison if he is found guilty on all the charges, said prosecutor Nicole Galstan.
The students ranged in age from 10 to 14 years old and the alleged crimes began in 2013. Bispham left the school at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, two law enforcement officers testified that four male students came forward with similar stories of how Bispham would fondle them while wrestling or playing flag football.
He would take some of the students into a closet in his classroom where he molest the students, said Everett Robles, a Fresno police officer. He’s also accused of molesting the children during a swim party.
After some of the incidents in his classroom, Bispham, a fourth grade teacher, would allegedly give the boys candy.
Bispham has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges and rejected a plea deal prior to Tuesday’s hearing. He remains in custody at the Fresno County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
A civil lawsuit has also been filed against Bispham and Fresno Adventist Academy. The lawsuit’s allegations include negligence by the school, emotional distress and sexual battery.
A jury trial in the civil case is scheduled for Nov. 30, 2020.