A Linda Vista junior high school teacher accused of molesting at least nine female students at school pleaded guilty Wednesday to one misdemeanor count of child molestation, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney’s office said.
John Placido Flores, 37, who was suspended May 6 from his teaching duties at John J. Montgomery Junior High School, will be fired from his job as a mathematics and science teacher, said Tina Dyer, general counsel for the San Diego Unified School District.
Even though the crime Flores pleaded guilty to is a misdemeanor, he must register as a sex offender with the Police Department, prosecutor Michael Carpenter said. According to Dyer, the plea will lead the state to consider revoking his teaching credential.
Flores was originally charged with nine counts of child molesting, one count of “lewd and lascivious conduct” with a child under 14, and one count of sexual battery. But under a plea bargain with the district attorney, the teacher pleaded guilty to one count of “annoying or molesting children under the age of 14,” said Carpenter.
“It is still a very serious crime to plead guilty to,” said Carpenter. “He could lose his (teaching) credential.”
Flores’ attorney, Deborah Carson, said she was reluctant to go forward with the plea, and had advised Flores not to accept it because she had not completed her investigation of the case.
“I think he was at a point of being so distraught that he didn’t want to put anyone--himself or his family--through any more court proceedings,” Carson said.
Sentencing will be completed sometime in July, said Dyer. After the court sets punishment, which could range from probation to a six-month jail term and/or a $500 fine, the school district will officially terminate Flores and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing will formally review his credential.
“After the sentencing, the district will send him a letter saying he is terminated,” said Dyer.
School authorities were first notified about the complaints in mid March, after a group of students told another teacher that Flores had been molesting them, a police spokesman said. Flores was immediately reassigned to non-teaching duties until charges were filed in early May, and he was suspended.
The original complaint alleged that Flores repeatedly molested at least three students, ages 12 to 14, between Sept. 1 and March 21, when he was relieved of his teaching duties.
The students claimed that the molesting occurred in the classroom, usually during breaks or after school. Most of the complaints allege that Flores fondled students through their clothing.