A former teacher at Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy pleaded not guilty to sex charges on Tuesday, Jan. 5, in San Mateo County Superior Court, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Danielle Matko, 33, of Belmont, is charged with two counts of engaging in oral copulation with a person under 16 by a person over the age of 21 and four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child age 14 or 15 by a person at least 10 years older. All are felonies. The incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 14, 2015, according to Wagstaffe.
In September, she was talking with a male teenager in her classroom during a free period and allegedly showed him her bare breasts, allowing the teen to touch them, and she rubbed his private area, according to the district attorney. On two other occasions, while the 15-year-old student was staying late in her classroom, Matko allegedly kissed him, pulled down his pants and performed an intimate act on him, according to Wagstaffe.
In November, the teen and a second 15-year-old male student were in Matko's classroom when she allegedly removed her blouse and let both victims touch her bare breasts, Wagstaffe said. The teens told their friends about the incidents.
One of the victims was involved in an after-school program where a legal aid lawyer was present and reported it to the lawyer, who called police, Karen Guidotti, assistant district attorney, said. She did not know if the legal aid lawyer was there in his official or personal capacity.
Guidotti said there is a photo on one of the boys' cell phones that corroborates their allegations.
She said she would not go into any further details regarding what the photograph shows.
Matko has denied the charges and claims the youth are fabricating the stories. She appeared in court with attorney Nathan Puri and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Matko also waived her right to a speedy preliminary hearing. She will return to court for a preliminary hearing on March 23.
Matko allegedly attended one of the teens' soccer games in December when she was out on $150,000 bail, the district attorney said. On Tuesday, Judge Mark Forcum issued a protective order against her directing no contact with either of the youth and increased her bail to $250,000. She posted that bail on Jan. 5 and is out of custody, Guidotti said.