Grand jury hears from students who accuse teacher of molestation
by Denise Ellen Rizzo
Nov 08, 2013 | 8658 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Darrel James Golden, a 59-year-old fourth-grade teacher at Traina Elementary School, is due back in court Friday, Nov. 8, for further arraignment on child molestation charges.

Golden pleaded not guilty in San Joaquin County Superior Court on Aug. 26 to 21 counts of lewd acts upon a child, 11 counts of molesting a child and one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child.

According to a San Joaquin County Grand Jury report that resulted in Golden’s arrest Aug. 5, the school’s maintenance supervisor was the first person to notify school officials about his alleged misconduct involving students.

Deputy District Attorney Elton Grau questioned alleged victims, their parents, school staff members and other students about Golden throughout a five-day period.

Custodian sounds alarm

During the first day of testimony, Augustin Melchor, school custodian for more than a decade, said he witnessed Golden grab the buttocks of a 9-year-old female student inside his classroom on Nov. 28, 2012.

Melchor said that at the time of the alleged incident, he was in Golden’s classroom, Room F-16, fixing a student’s desk. He testified that Golden was working with a student, identified as Jane Doe No. 1, inside the room.

After leaving to retrieve a tool, Melchor re-entered the room quietly and believed that Golden did not see him. While working on the desk, he said, he saw Golden “grab the buttocks of a little girl.”

“He grabbed it 8 to 10 seconds,” he told the grand jury. “It was like squeezing it.”

Principal notifies police

Principal Jon Ovick, who became the Traina principal in July 2012, told the grand jury he was in the schoolyard at the time the alleged incident on Nov. 28, 2012.

“I was out on the yard, lunch supervision, and I came in to do something,” Ovick testified. “We have radios, and when I came into the front office, my secretary, Debbie Perrara, informed me that Augustin Melchor, our head custodian, needed to see me immediately.”

Ovick said he and Assistant Principal Shameram Karim met with Melchor. When Grau asked what was going through the principal’s mind, Ovick testified, “First, I thought, What in the world’s going on? I have to be honest with you.”

After speaking to Melchor, Ovick looked for Golden and found him attending a data team meeting. The principal did not immediately speak to him and instead had the student go to the office to discuss the matter. Ovick testified that the girl was nervous and anxious.

Ovick notified the police after talking with the girl, and Golden was placed on paid administrative leave that night by Jefferson Elementary School District officials.

On Nov. 29, Ovick said he met with the parents of Golden’s students. He said he informed them about the allegations and that Tracy Police Department detectives would be talking with their children.

Tutoring sessions unapproved by school

Ovick testified that after his meeting with parents, one parent approached him about an after-school tutoring program Golden started.

Ovick told the grand jury the school had not authorized the program.

The mother of Jane Doe No. 1 testified that Golden told parents about his plans for an after-school program during the Back to School Night before the first day of school. She testified that it was set up for 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The mother of Jane Doe No. 1 told the grand jury Golden described his program as “tutoring the students he felt would need it.”

On Nov. 12-16, Golden approached her again about signing up her daughter for the after-school program before Thanksgiving break.

She said that after the police became involved, her daughter had told her Golden put his hands down her pants and touched her buttocks.

Student recalls Nov. 28, 2012, incident

Jane Doe No. 1, the girl in the alleged Nov. 28 incident, was the first of 13 students to testify to the grand jury.

The 9-year-old, crying on the witness stand, told the grand jury Golden touched her “private spot in the front” under her clothing. She said she tried to leave, but Golden “forced her to stay.”

When Grau asked her about Golden touching her buttocks, she didn’t remember him doing it.

Jane Doe No. 1 spoke of another incident that occurred on a different day when she was in line to leave the room with the other students. Golden asked her to go to the front of the line and she said he “grabbed my hand and placed it on his crotch.”

“I just tried to put my hand away from him, but he kept it there,” she testified.

When asked if she had seen any other students being touched by Golden, the 9-year-old replied that she saw Jane Doe No. 2 with her pants unzipped at Golden’s desk while the teacher touched the other girl’s “private spot.”

Jane Doe No. 1 testified that Golden had called some of the female students his wife — including Jane Doe No. 2 and Jane Doe No. 8 — and told them he loved them and planned to marry them.

Grau asked Jane Doe No. 1 how the touching made her feel.

“It would make me feel sad, and upset and worried,” the girl replied.

When asked what worried her, she responded, “That he was going to do it to my other friends.”

Other student victims speak

When 10-year-old Jane Doe No. 2 took the witness stand, she told the grand jury Golden had “touched her privates in the front” and “her buttocks,” discussing his actions in detail.

She said the incidents occurred during school hours at both recess and lunch.

Asked by Grau whether Golden had ever warned her not to tell anyone, she said, “He said not to tell anyone or else I’ll get in trouble.”

Jane Doe No. 3 told the grand jury that Golden had smacked her and another girl’s buttocks when they were walking out of the classroom to go to lunch. She told jurors the action “really bothered her” and said she asked the other girl why he had done it.

“It made me feel weird,” she testified.

Grau asked Jane Doe No. 3 if Golden had ever asked about rumors spreading around the school. She said he had.

“He said that this incident happened and he said if you know about it, don’t tell anyone,” she testified. “And if you don’t know about it, don’t even ask about it.”

At the conclusion of the first day of testimony, Grau asked Jane Doe No. 3 if Golden had student favorites. She replied that he did and called them “smart students and students who liked him.”

She identified Golden’s favorites as Jane Does No. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8 and 9.

•Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or drizzo@tracypress.com.

Editor’s note: The Tracy Press has read the San Joaquin County Grand Jury report and knows the identities of the victims and their parents. In accordance with policy, the Press will refer to all victims as Jane or John Doe.

 
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