Education

Ex-Fresno teacher will stand trial in sex case

A Fresno County judge on Monday ordered a former University High School music teacher to stand trial on charges that he had a sexual relationship with an underage former student and exchanged sexually explicit text messages with two other students.

Jonathan Malcolm, 32, is charged with unlawful oral copulation with a minor and sexual penetration involving a former female student, as well as sending lewd material to two underage females, who also were students.

But at least one of the three -- now 20 and identified as Jane Doe -- testified in court Monday that she did not want Malcolm to get prison time.

"I don't want him to go to jail because I don't think he's a bad person," she said. Instead, she thought Malcolm needed therapy.

In addition to the former student, California State University, Fresno, police detective Tatevos Manucharyan testified. The charter high school is on campus.

Together, they painted a portrait of relationships that evolved from school-related text messages and e-mails between Malcolm and the students to sexually explicit communications.

Jane Doe testified that they had a platonic relationship in the spring of 2007, when she was his teaching assistant. They first kissed after she graduated that year, and by later in the summer, had oral sex.

Under questioning by Roger Nuttall, who is representing Malcolm, Jane Doe said the relationship was close and caring.

Because of the nature of the relationship and the fact that it turned sexual after she graduated and within a few months of her 18th birthday, Nuttall suggested those charges be reduced to misdemeanors.

He said it "may have been unprofessional" and "immoral," but "it's barely illegal conduct."

Judge Houry Sanderson denied that request.

Charges involving the other two students involved sexually explicit e-mail and text messages, but no sexual conduct.

Malcolm initially faced eight felony counts, but a third student was added to the charges in an amended criminal complaint, bringing the total sexual misconduct counts to 13.

According to an affidavit by Manucharyan, one student said she and Malcolm would talk late into the night after school band performances. She also said she and Malcolm would send text messages to each other frequently and talk for hours on the phone. Malcolm sent one of the students more than 10,500 text messages, and she sent him more than 8,500.

But Nuttall said Malcolm's conduct involving the messages didn't meet the charge against him, because there was no physical contact or effort to seduce the girls.

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