An English teacher at Fresno High School was arrested Thursday night after police say they uncovered the man’s alleged sexual relationship with a student that spanned over a year.
Lt. Jeff Motoyasu said Darren Klassen, 46, was booked on two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and lewd and lascivious acts with a minor. Both are felonies. Because the relationship started when the victim was under 16 and there is more than a three-year age difference, the charges are more severe than other sex-related offenses.
Klassen was released on $80,000 bail Friday morning.
Klassen is also a local musician who is a former member of the alternative rock band 40 Watt Hype and, currently, Louder Than Waves.
Motoyasu said detectives learned of the alleged incident after the parents of the victim, a girl who graduated from Fresno High in the spring, called police Thursday morning. The girl told her parents that she was in an intimate relationship with Klassen during her junior and senior years, and she had recently ended it.
Before that, Motoyasu said, Klassen and the girl were friends.
Motoyasu said the girl was in a class taught by Klassen at some point, but he didn’t know which year. The sex acts began when she was 15 years old, Motoyasu said.
“We’re saddened by it (the arrest) because of the trust formed between a teacher and students,” Motoyasu said. “It’s a very inappropriate thing that does happen.”
Motoyasu cautioned parents to always be aware of what is going on with their student.
In a statement, Fresno Unified School District said it “takes these allegations seriously” and has placed Klassen on administrative leave.
“Allegations of this nature are extremely upsetting and do not reflect the high professional standards the district expects of staff,” the statement said. “Support services is on campus today and will continue to be next week for any students who are struggling with news of this incident.”
Before teaching at Fresno High, Klassen was a teacher at Madera South High School for over a decade. During that time, he was honored as an outstanding creative writing teacher at Fresno State’s 2004 Young Writers Conference.
Klassen is also a fixture in Fresno’s music scene. According to the band’s Facebook page, he is the bass player for Louder Than Waves. His band performed in August at the Summerland 2015 music festival, opening for alternative rock bands Everclear, Fuel and others, in Fresno.
Sometime Friday afternoon, the band began removing images of Klassen from its Facebook page. But a screenshot taken Friday morning shows pictures of Klassen and his bandmates and lists him as a member.
Current members of 40 Watt Hype said Klassen left that band more than 11 years ago.