The Star-News


District Attorney delays charging Chula Vista teacher

Tue, Oct 30 2012 12:00 AM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo

A Sweetwater Union High School District teacher arrested by Chula Vista police Monday on felony charges of sexual misconduct with a minor was released from jail Wednesday.

Terrance Smith, 32, was arrested at the district administration building and charged with 14 counts of oral copulation with a minor.

An arraignment for Smith Wednesday afternoon at the South Bay courthouse was canceled after the District Attorney’s office declined to file any charges.

District Attorney spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said Thursday that the case is still under review for possible charges.

“We want to be sure we can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt,” Sierra said.

Smith’s attorney David Shapiro, who was in court Thursday, emailed a statement regarding Smith’s release.

“He’s home with his family where he belongs and looks forward to regaining his good name and reputation,” he said.

Outside the courthouse Wednesday, Shapiro said he was encouraged by the DA’s attention to detail, adding that the police didn’t conduct a thorough investigation.

“It was very quick,” Shapiro said. “I think they rushed to judgment.”

Chula Vista police spokesman Capt. Gary Wedge said Thursday the department’s investigation was thorough and that it’s possible the DA hasn’t filed charges yet because the case is complex.

“The fact that he wasn’t arraigned isn’t in itself uncommon,” Wedge said. “It doesn’t mean he won’t be charged later on. Our position hasn’t changed. We still be believe he did what he was alleged to have done.”

Wedge added the probable cause arrest was not only established by the victims’ statement but by the evidence that was collected.

A female told police Oct. 19 that she had been involved in a sexual relationship with Smith while she was a student at Chula Vista High from 2006 to 2008.

“It’s not as if we simply took a statement and made an arrest,” Wedge said. “We got the information, we talked to the victim, our detectives did a great deal of follow up … We will continue to investigate and gather anything we can,” Wedge said.

Shapiro said if the DA’s office does decide to press charges, he is ready to enter a not guilty plea on Smith’s behalf.

Smith, who teaches in the school’s AVID program as well as ninth grade English, had a lot of support from current and former students, as well as friends and family Wednesday.

Monique Proa, 18, a former student of Smith’s and graduate of Chula Vista High, said she was shocked to hear of the allegations.

“I’m hoping they’re (the allegations) false,” Proa said. “It was very surprising to hear. If you had a problem you could always go to him.”

Another former student of Smith, Daniel Cedano, said he believes Smith is innocent.

“It’s outrageous that someone would try to destroy his reputation,” Cedano said. “He had open doors and nothing to hide.”

Smith started working for the district in 2004 as a substitute and has been at Chula Vista High since.

A rally was also held Wednesday morning in front of Chula Vista High where Proa said approximately 200 students gathered in support of Smith with signs that read, “Free Smith,” and wore white T-shirts, signifying purity.

District spokesman Manny Rubio said the allegations are of serious concern.

“As far as we’re concerned he’s still on (paid) administrative leave,” Rubio said Thursday. “Right now we’re trying to determine what the best decision is for everyone involved. We have our own internal process that we need to follow as well.”

Smith was honored earlier this month as one of 10 finalists at the annual San Diego County Salute to Teachers event.

This story was updated on Nov. 1.


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