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A former teacher at La Jolla Country Day School has been arrested for sexually assaulting a minor. Jonathan Sammartino, 35, has been charged with one count of statutory rape, oral copulation of a minor and digital penetration of a minor. He was arrested near San Jose.
While police authorities have not yet confirmed this, Sammartino’s current employer, San Jose’s The Harker School, says he was arrested based on “allegations of a sexual assault of a student under 18 years of age at his former school in San Diego, NBC 7 San Diego reports.
Authorities say Sammartino began a “romantic” and “sexual” relationship with a 17-year-old female student at La Jolla Country Day School in April 2016. The relationship lasted until September 2016, according to an affidavit of probable cause, spanning just before and after the student’s graduation from the school.
Authorities were alerted to the situation when the student, now attending the University of California, Berkeley, made a criminal complaint against Sammartino with campus police in August 2018. Police in San Diego say the teacher admitted to having conducted the inappropriate relationship during a controlled phone call, 10 News reports.
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Sammartino has been put on leave from the Harker School, after teaching for the first few weeks of the school year. The school says the charges were only filed last week, which is why the accusations didn’t turn up in their background checks. Sammartino also spent a brief stint teaching at the French American International School in San Francisco.
At La Jolla Country Day School, he taught psychology and the trivium, a class about rhetoric, grammar, and logic, in the Upper School, which is the equivalent to a traditional high school. He also gave lectures at the school, according to a bio now removed from the school’s website. He is son to Janis L. Sammartino, a Judge for the U.S. Southern District of California.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He denies any and all sexual misconduct. If convicted, he faces up to four years and four months in prison. A preliminary hearing is scheduled in the case for December 5, 2018.