Newcastle teacher pleads not guilty to sexually abusing minor
A Newcastle special education teacher pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges stemming from an alleged sexual relationship with a former student of hers who was a minor.
About a half-dozen family and friends sat by Jennifer Woods’ side during her first court appearance after being arrested Jan. 10 on felony charges of sex and oral copulation with a minor. Woods, a 35-year-old from Granite Bay, was released on $100,000 bail later that day.
She answered Placer County Superior Court Judge Eugene Gini in one-word responses.
“There’s also a protective order that you’re to have no contact with the victim in this matter … do you understand that?” Gini asked.
“Yes,” Woods replied.
She had been employed in the Placer County Office of Education’s program for the emotionally disturbed, according to the office’s website.
Woods allegedly had sex with a former student who she began a yearlong relationship with when he was 16, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. They met when he was a student of hers about two years ago, and the alleged victim had since transferred schools, police said.
“Ms. Woods is a good person,” said her attorney, Bradley Wishek, after exiting the courtroom. “She’s a community-minded person, family-oriented person. She is very concerned for the well-being of this young man.”
Woods is facing four felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, two felony counts of arranging a meeting for a lewd/lascivious act and two misdemeanor counts of child molesting, according to Placer County Superior Court records.
Through her attorney, she acknowledged receipt of the complaint and waived a formal reading, and Wishek said he had advised her of her rights. When Gini asked whether they were prepared to enter not guilty pleas Monday, Wishek responded, “Yes.”
Her next court date is March 13 in Dept. 44 of the Placer County Superior Court.
Woods had been teaching at the Sierra Vista School for special needs students and was placed on unpaid leave shortly after her arrest, said Placer County Superintendent of Schools Gayle Garbolino-Mojica. Sierra Vista School’s classes temporarily moved to Granite Bay’s Vista Creek School this year because of a drop in enrollment, Garbolino-Mojica said.
Woods had been on administrative leave since the county received a complaint in September, Garbolino-Mojica said.
Jon Schultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews