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Math tutor accused of molesting teenagers within 14-year span arrested

Original post made on Aug 27, 2020

On Tuesday, Palo Alto police arrested a man who they say molested seven teenage girls at his home, some of which happened several years ago and recently came to light.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 27, 2020, 9:49 AM

Comments (24)

10 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:53 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Why weren't the previous crimes brought to light earlier? 14 years is a long time to have gotten away with such unwarranted criminal behavior.

Sex offenders (of any nature) can never be fully rehabbed so it is probably in the best interests of society to lock ALL of them up upon conviction & throw away the keys.


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Posted by I know the name
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2020 at 12:40 pm

I know the name is a registered user.

Wasn’t he a GATE teacher at Palo Verde in the 80s?


31 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:10 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

I am shocked. Having been Mark’s female student for 5 years+, I have never ever once experienced anything inappropriate, and neither have my friends who have gone to him for tutoring. He was certainly very old school, warm and friendly but never had sexual intentions. He is one of the nicest individuals I have met so this is just really sad to hear....


36 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 27, 2020 at 1:39 pm

anonymous is a registered user.

Mark tutored me and my sisters for many years. He was nothing but nice, encouraging and a great math tutor. I must admit that I am uncomfortable with the police issuing this release. I hope they have very strong evidence of misdeeds because otherwise it seems wrong to issue this before the case has been tried. This makes me very very sad for everyone involved.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Anon is a registered user.

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


25 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

This is such surprising and unexpected news. I'm a young woman who received private tutoring from Mark all throughout middle and high school and had nothing but positive experiences with him. He was so nice, supportive, and patient with my many questions, and I never got "creepy vibes" from him during our weekly (and sometimes even tri-weekly) tutoring sessions, many of which were at his house. He also tutored my sister and brother and they never experienced anything even remotely similar to what's alleged in this article. I credit Mark with being a big reason why I got into my dream college, and am saddened to hear about these allegations against him.


31 people like this
Posted by eyeswideopen
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 27, 2020 at 3:27 pm

eyeswideopen is a registered user.

I know Mark in another capacity and find this so shocking but also wonder if public announcement of accusations is appropriate. Very unsettling.


13 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

> I’m skeptical about this article being published before a trial/evidence...

^ A felony arrest is public information as the DA must first present valid evidence to a judge before an arrest warrant can be issued.

The trial itself will present an opportunity for the defendant & his attorney to refute the evidence.

Until a verdict is reached, the defendant is presumed innocent.


21 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2020 at 4:06 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Brock Turner (the convicted double-felony Stanford rapist) also had very positive relationships with some women, yet he still raped a different woman. Having positive relationships with some women is not exculpatory evidence. Virtually every convicted - and guilty- rapist can point to positive relationships with some women.

I'm confused why people would object to this arrest being publicized as opposed to other arrests, like the arrest of a person who robbed a store or mugged a pedestrian. Arrests are usually public record. In this case, there is a particularly compelling public interest to publicize the arrest, given the numerous accusations that spanned more than a decade, and the potential that there may be other victims who have not yet come forward - or who did come forward but no one listened.

Rather than potential gun-jumping here, I wonder if the bigger problem may be one of a police department that let this slide by for 14 years? Do we know how many complaints the police received before they finally investigated and arrested this man? Will an investigation be done on the police to determine why there was a 14 year delay in arresting him, during which time, I imagine, he had a chance to assault many more girls?

Sexual assaults are vastly under-reported to the police. Also: when they are reported, they are vastly under-investigated. I wonder if that happened here?

In sum, I hope we learn as much about the police process as we do about the alleged perp. Our community deserves as much.


43 people like this
Posted by Ardan Michael Blum
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 27, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Ardan Michael Blum is a registered user.

@RebeccaEisenberg - You state without the slightest proof and with the hope of expanded anti-Palo Alto police sentiment a very odd assertion: "(...) I wonder if the bigger problem may be one of a police department that let this slide by for 14 years?". How dare you! You certainly will not get my vote.


20 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 27, 2020 at 7:01 pm

Carl Jones is a registered user.

@Rebecca
Did you not read carefully what was reported: "Some of the incidents happened several years ago and recently came to light. .... The investigation began on June 9 of this year, when two women in their 20s contacted Palo Alto police ..."


5 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 27, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

All I did was repeat the facts as reported by the police in the article and the press release:

Web Link

The police reported that there were 7 victims spanning over 14 years. What triggered the investigation was when 2 women at the same time complained recently. Apparently the police had not actually investigated until these 2 women complained. but the implication is there from the police report that over the course of 14 years there had been complaints, but no investigations.


17 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Curious is a registered user.

Hi Rebecca,

Can you point out the “implication” in the police report? Also where did you see there were complaints but no investigation? Did I miss that?

Thanks.


23 people like this
Posted by Anon3
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 9:50 pm

Anon3 is a registered user.

@Rebecca -- How could you compare Brock Turner, a hard-partying college athlete who admitted he had sex with an unconscious woman, to Mark Hodes, a 74-year old grandpa who taught kids math as a second career and the claims involve "inappropriate touching"? Under CA law, molestation includes touching any part of a minor's body, not just intimate parts. So, for example, if Mark patted a child on the back or the knee as encouragement if the child got a problem right, it could be considered molestation if the child misinterpreted the intent. Is it right to publicize this matter, so Mark will likely never teach again, before this matter is decided in court? Are you aware of the allegations brought against Harker's math teacher? He was cleared of the charges, but not before his name and reputation were ruined. Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:02 pm

Curious is a registered user.

Hi all,
I do want to be very clear, that if the reports are true, he should spend the rest of his life in jail.

I am just curious about Rebecca’s comments about the police not investigating the possible crime.


16 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Where does the article say that police sat on this for 14 years? The way I read this, the police started an investigation on June 9, 2020 after two women in their 20s came forward. Maybe the other victims surfaced during the investigation. It doesn't make any sense that they would sit on information for 14 years, and then investigate now just because two women came forward. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a lot more victims. Too many victims are afraid to come forward. Pedophiles make my blood boil, and people defending him anger me. Who cares if he was nice to you, and didn't molest you. He molested other girls, and that's all that matters.


17 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:03 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Rebecca Eisenberg It is wrong of you to compare Mark Hodes with Brock Turner. There is just absolutely no comparison.

Like @Anon3 said, "Under CA law, molestation includes touching any part of a minor's body, not just intimate parts." After being a female student of Mark's for several years (seeing him multiple times a week for 4 years) I have never once experienced/heard about this from peers who went to him. It would be such a shame if Mark's encouraging pats are being misconstrued as acts of molestation by students who perhaps did not know him or his intentions well. He is the kindest person and has been a mentor to me. I look up to him in so many ways and my family, peers, and I have so much admiration for him-- I give credit to him for my academic success and confidence in my ability. [Portion removed; repetitive.]


10 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:24 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Under California law, molestation includes touching any part of a minor's body for sexually arousing or gratifying yourself or the victim. Not just touching a minor. Quit minimizing the alleged charges. They're not going to do an investigation because he touched her hand while handing her a book.


18 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:52 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Why are people acting like a trial has already happened and Mark has been convicted as guilty + sentenced accordingly? What happened to the presumption of innocence—the legal principle that holds a defendant is "innocent until proven guilty"? This comments section reads like a court of public opinion.


17 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 27, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

@Jennifer Exactly, and this supposed “touching” has been interpreted as ill intent when it was completely not. I think his students who know him on a personal level would know that better than you do.

Let’s keep in mind Mark has tutored hundreds of students over the past 50+ years and this is the first that we are hearing of anything like this. While not to dismiss victims’ experiences, I think they may have misinterpreted his intentions. I strongly believe that his encouraging pats on the knees/back are NOT with any kind of sexual intent.


7 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2020 at 1:20 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

I am repeating the police's press release. The press release said that there are 7 confirmed victims over the course of 14 years. The press release said that the investigation was started after the 2 most recent women reported. If the investigation was started recently, that means that it was not started earlier -- when the other victims possibly reported.

Web Link

The question is where the other 5 victims came from. The police could have found those victims in many ways, but 2 come to mind. One is that the police could have subpoenaed the complete list of former students, and called up each and every one until they located 5 other victims. That is possible, but it seems unlikely based on (1) the short amount of time between the 2 women reporting and this arrest, and (2) the fact that many people here and elsewhere have admitted publicly and privately (to me) that they were former students of the alleged perp,... and that they never were contacted.

The most common, by far, way that police locate other victims is to do a search of complaints in the system. When the police do those searches in these kind of cases, where the only evidence is the word of a girl versus the word of an man, families are often told that it is very difficult to prove, and the process is a living hell. So, in these types of situations, there might be 40 complaints, of which 35 complainants can be tracked down, and of them, maybe 5 are willing to cooperate through the nightmare of a prosecution.

Given that the point of the press release is to locate other victims, the police seem confident that other victims exist.

Repeating the police report and interpreting the police report is not the same thing as saying that the man is guilty. If all these women are lying, then he obviously is not guilty. If even one of these 7 women is telling the truth, he has done a terrible thing. And if he has done an even more terrible thing, and there are more than 7 victims, then jumping on anyone who admits that there is a chance that he is guilty is not going to help the other victims come forward -- which is something that we want, right?, if there are more victims?

Here is the irony: my comment was a criticism of the PAPD. I kept asking, and continue to ask, where did these other 5 victims come from? If it is true that this man is guilty -- which is what the PAPD believe, because they arrested him and charge him with a lot of counts -- and if the PAPD had reports of this man that they did not pursue over the course of 14 years, then the PAPD allowed a serial pedophile to continue to prey on children for 14 years - or more - while they did nothing.

I do not know the answer to the question of why alleged sexual assault of a child that occurred 14 years ago was not pursued 14 years ago. The answer was not in the police report. If there is a more likely theory than the one I suggested -- that the report came in but was not investigated thoroughly enough to lead to an arrest -- then it would be great to hear that alternative explanation.

Only the PAPD know the answer to why they only now are arresting a man for a sexual assault of a child that happened 18 years ago. I think that the PAPD should explain that. Don't you?


9 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 28, 2020 at 3:18 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

BTW, I just noticed this, which I think may have come in while I was writing -- and may get taken down because it may be the same user under a different name like the other "anon Fairmeadow"

Anonymous
Fairmeadow

"I strongly believe that his encouraging pats on the knees/back are NOT with any kind of sexual intent."

Anon Fairmeadow: I don't know who you are and how old you were at the time that Mark gave you "encouraging pats on the knees/back" and certainly everyone has different comfort levels with this, but ... I do not think it is appropriate for a tutor to give a 14-YO-girl (or boy) (the typical age of his victims) "encouraging pats" on the knees or back.

I do not think a tutor should be touching a 14 YO student at all, and I don't think I am alone in that opinion. Not only am I a lawyer (albeit not a criminal one), but more importantly, I used to be a 14 YO girl, and I have a daughter who is now 17 and a son who is 15, and even at 17 I do not think that would be appropriate. Maybe a 17 YO can consent to encouraging pats on the knees, but the law says that a 14 YO cannot consent to appreciative knee-patting, and I am hard-pressed to disagree with that, especially when I think about the context of an 8th grade child and their 50-year old math tutor.

Having been a math tutor myself, for kids of all ages (which helped me pay for college and law school), and with a mother whose 50-year career of teaching ranging from Kinders through high school seniors ... for the life of me, I cannot come up with a time where giving a pat on the knee or back is an appropriate way to demonstrate encouragement.

I don't mind if this post is taken down -- to the extent that these thoughts have merit, this is the worst possible way to deliver them. I am sorry.


11 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2020 at 7:31 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Interesting, somewhat ironic and perhaps 'only in Palo Alto'....

A lot of folks here were willing to condemn current United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Kavanaugh of various improprieties based solely on one person's allegations but in the case of a local math tutor who was actually arrested following a prior police investigation & an actual bench warrant based on 14 different incidents...numerous outcries of 'the humanity' by those either in utter disbelief or by staunch defenders of his tutoring acumen.

Bottom line...in the American judicial system, the burden of proof is on the prosecution so there's no point in jumping to any conclusions until this case has played itself out.

In any event, it doesn't look too good right now for the defendant if the 14 accounts are verified in court along with any other related or previously unreported incidents.


11 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 28, 2020 at 7:44 am

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Lastly as Ms. Eisenberg has tried to illustrate...

"Having positive relationships with some women is not exculpatory evidence."

^ Thus...this could very well be a case of 'selective' harassment and/or inappropriate behavior.


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