Protective order granted against Palo Alto teacher facing alleged sex crimes

Ronnie Farrell to enter plea in September

The Palo Alto High School science teacher accused of sex crimes against a 15-year-old student may not contact her, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled on Monday, Aug. 15.

Ronnie Farrell, 46, was arraigned in the Palo Alto Courthouse for nine sex crimes stemming from two incidents involving the female student. He did not enter a plea but is scheduled to do so on Sept. 21.

Judge Aaron Persky did sign a non-contact order sought by prosecutors barring Farrell from any contact with the student. Persky, the judge who presided over the controversial sentencing of former Stanford University student-athlete Brock Turner convicted of sexual assault, is currently facing a recall effort for his decision in the Turner case.

Farrell, who taught biology and chemistry at Paly, faces six counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a minor and three counts of sexual battery for the incidents, which occurred in early June on school grounds, prosecutor Steven Dal Porto said after the arrest. Palo Alto police arrested Farrell on June 15 for allegedly inappropriately touching the student in his classroom.

Superintendent Max McGee said after the arrest that the district has not received any previous complaints about Farrell nor any indication that Farrell engaged in this kind of behavior.


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6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 15, 2016 at 1:46 pm

Is Persky going to be the judge at his criminal trial?

2 people like this
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Aug 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Unknown. The trial is likely to be so far off (in terms of months or years) by the time it winds through the court process that the case could be assigned to someone else. On the other hand, cases that begin under a particular judge's jurisdiction can continue on with that judge.

3 people like this
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Aug 15, 2016 at 5:41 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Here's an update from an email I sent to the prosecutor for the Farrell case, Steve Dal Porto:

"If a case goes to trial it would not necessarily be in front of Judge Persky. I have had cases in Palo Alto (Moustafa, for example) where I have done the preliminary hearing in front of one judge and been sent to another judge for jury trial.

19 people like this
Posted by Persky Must Go
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Persky Must Go is a registered user.

It appears that Judge Persky is currently the only Palo Alto judge who conducts felony trials. There are three total, but it is my understanding that Judge Kulkarni does only misdemeanors, and Judge Barnum does felony settlements and sentencing but doesn't do jury trials. Judge Persky does felony trials and sentencings for those cases he tries in his department plus for those cases he settles.

It is surprising and disappointing that the district attorney's office did not remove Judge Persky from this case, as it did in a prior felony sex offense case after the Turner verdict, given his history of bias in lenient sentences for white and privileged sex offenders. This student deserves justice and now there is little chance she will receive it. This teacher is precisely the sort of sex offender whom Persky treats with kid gloves: he is educated, with a "supportive family" from a "good community" and has no criminal record. He is white. He is from Palo Alto.

All one needs to do is look at the list of sex offenders and batterers who have received special treatment from Judge Persky (with more being released every day). Just last week we learned about the white child porn defendant who was arrested with a photo of a baby girl being raped. He received 4 days in jail from Judge Persky rather than the standard 6 month sentence given to similar offenders for that same crime in this county. Judge Persky has no business hearing sex crimes -- he clearly does not think that they are serious and does not treat them like the major felonies that they are.

It would be good if Sue asked Jeff Rosen why he chose not to paper Judge Persky in this case as he did before. Rosen's office should be accountable for that decision.

14 people like this
Posted by Persky Must Go
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 15, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Persky Must Go is a registered user.

And frankly, Rosen should also answer why it matters whether the judge would change "if the case goes to trial." This case is going to result in a plea. That is obvious. No one thinks this will go to trial. Persky will preside over that plea and that is exactly when Persky does the most damage. The cases in which his performance has really demonstrated bias have very often been pleas, since so many cases are resolved by plea and because he feels so free to make offers of court and to engage in pushing back in off the record negotiations in chambers with the attorneys (including from Rosen's office) and probation.

I think that the answer from Dal Porto is remarkably obfuscatory. The question isn't who will preside over the nonexistent trial that zero people think is coming in this case. The question is why you didn't paper Judge Persky so that he wouldn't be presiding over the plea here. Look for Farrell to plead to something really and truly minimal, go to AA meetings once a week and get some faked up court card signed off, and then get probation. Maybe 6 months. He certainly will not get the prison sentence he richly deserves for abusing his position of trust and destroying this child's life.

4 people like this
Posted by ?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 15, 2016 at 9:39 pm

? is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Chris M
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Chris M is a registered user.

In response to parent's post, if I were representing Mr. Farrell and this case was going to go to trial, I would do everything in my power to get it moved completely out of Palo Alto.

In response to the comments of Perky Must Go (PMG), they reflect a serious lack of understanding as to how the criminal legal process plays out. Judges do not "settle" criminal cases. Plea deals are made between the district attorney and the defense lawyers, and they agree on the sentence. While the judge has the discretion to reject a plea deal, in that case the deal is off and defendant can choose to go to trial. DAs know what sentences are appropriate under various circumstances, and generally do not agree to sentences that are too lenient. Consequently, judges very rarely reject plea deals agreed to by DAs. The suggestion that Judge Persky is responsible for plea deals is simply not based in reality.

PMG also states that there is a growing "list of sex offenders and batterers that have received special treatment from Judge Persky." That is simply not true. Other than the sentence in the Robert Chain case that PMG references, I challenge her or anyone else to name one sexual assault criminal case in which Judge Persky's sentence was more lenient than an agreed plea deal or the probation department's recommendation.

The recall Judge Persky movement is a witch hunt [portion removed] bolstered by a widespread misunderstanding of the facts of that case -- a misunderstanding that those supporting a recall of Judge Persky have in many cases actively encouraged. [Portion removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Caroline V.
a resident of Portola Valley
on Aug 17, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Caroline V. is a registered user.

I would like to comment on Superintendent Max McGee's comment: " the district has not received any previous complaints about Farrell nor any indication that Farrell engaged in this kind of behavior".

Readers should know that our K-12 and postsecondary education are required to report and investigate any abusive and illegal conduct in order to qualify for state and federal funding, but this administration covers it up and administrative staff will help cover it up. Hopefully further investigation will disclose that these reports were made.

To give you an example: I disclosed hate crimes, discrimination, Medicare fraud, Elder abuse and Neglect, violations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the collaborative efforts among SJSU/CSU administration to cover this up as well as the academic and workplace mobbing (group bullying) used to defame me, manipulate the grievance process, and defer any investigation as required under Executive Orders 927928, 929, 1045, 1058 and 1063, , but District Attorney Rosen and District Attorney Wagstaffe refuse to investigate the misconduct. SJSU campus police has a 46 pages long complaint since September 2013. It is signed by Santos M., filed under SG 1301140 and its disposition reads "forward this report for Investigations and CAIT review".SJSU compliance Officer Julie Paisant claims there are no records and when I try to submit new reports she demands that I not to contact her. My phone calls and certified mail addressed to SJSU campus Police Chief Decena and SJSU administration simply remains unanswered.

This is happening all over the Bay Area in our education systems and healthcare systems. Students, teachers, healthcare providers, and administrators who disclose the abusive and illegal conduct are retaliated against, silenced,, and threatened with losing their job. Our education systems are deep pocket public entities using unlimited taxpayers money for their legal defense. As we saw at PAUSD, settlements are reached behind closed doors and why did PAUSD change the language in the administrative regulations AB 5145.3 (which is the one for reporting bullying, harassment, intimidation, retaliation.....) from "shall" to "may"...

Our education systems are required by law to warrant safety, equity and quality, but instead they use false advertisement, do not abide by the rules, do not respect our laws and our Constitution, and ignore the requirements to get state and federal funding. California has the laws in place to hold them accountable (e.g Education codes 200 et al., 220, 230, 66000,66030, 66250 et al, 66270, 66290, 66292, government codes 3543 et al, 11135 et al,.our Constitution article 1 and 9...the list goes on and on), but the law is not enforced. Our education systems simply act above the law and seem to get away with it...

Silicon Valley will not prevent and not reduce the high rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and suicides as long as our educations systems allow abusive and illegal conduct and definitely not as long as they cover it up.

Good news: Whistleblower Kathleen Carroll won her lawsuit against the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. She was a CTC lawyer who became aware of the massive backlog of credentials for thousands of teachers were being held up, while others had serious charges of misconduct that were being acted on.
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