Teacher says 'dissatisfied' student made false accusations

A Corona del Mar High School teacher under investigation by police said Thursday that a disgruntled student made false accusations against him.

Drama teacher Ronald Martin, who was placed on leave June 5 pending a police investigation, said he did nothing wrong.

"I can tell you that I, in no way, did anything malicious to any student or have I ever in my 22 years of teaching," he said.

Police have not interviewed him in the course of the investigation, nor has he been arrested or charged, the 57-year-old teacher told the Daily Pilot on Thursday.

Newport Beach police have described the alleged incident as a nonsexual battery that did not involve a weapon. They have declined to say when the alleged incident occurred or which party is accused of battering the other.

Martin, too, declined to describe specifics of the incident he believes sparked the allegations.

"The child was a minor, and I don't feel it would be right to be mentioning names or situations," the Costa Mesa resident said.

He believes there's an ulterior motive, which he said he discovered on Facebook.

"The child is dissatisfied, I guess, with the way that I teach," he said.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District placed Martin on paid leave last week and announced the move in a news release sent out Tuesday.

Martin said he'd been placed on administrative leave days before he was told why.

"The district refused for several days to say what the allegations were of any kind," he said.

He was upset that the district publicly announced the news of the investigation.

Newport-Mesa withheld his name in the news release, but later confirmed Martin was under investigation after the Pilot asked for the name of the teacher involved in the conflict. The Newport Beach Police Department also confirmed the allegations.

School officials said they only made the announcement because police were about to release details.

"The NBPD advised us on Tuesday that they had received calls from media representatives asking specific questions about the investigation," district spokeswoman Laura Boss wrote in an email. "The PD informed us that they would be responding to the reporters with the specific allegations and title of the person."

Martin said he was stung by the battery accusation.

"It still hurts," he said. "Like I said, I've spent 22 years teaching thousands of students, loving what I do and loving my students."

Martin was placed on leave by Newport-Mesa officials once before, in October 2009.

He said at the time that it was retaliation for the controversy that engulfed his production of "Rent" at CdM.

Initially, the show was replaced with the musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and Martin accused then-Principal Fal Asrani of blocking the "Rent" production because of its themes of homosexuality and prostitution.

Asrani denied that, telling media outlets at the time that she only wanted to see the script before greenlighting the production.

A toned-down version of the musical, dubbed "Rent: School Edition," eventually made it to the school's stage in April 2009.

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