A California elementary school teacher was described by prosecutors as being “obsessive, possessive, controlling and dangerous” toward a former student that she is accused of grooming and sexually abusing.
Jacqueline Ma, a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Acres Elementary School in National City who was named one of the county’s top educators last year, pleaded not guilty Monday to 15 felony charges including child sex abuse and child pornography, ABC 10 reported.
Prosecutors said Monday that a picture of the 13-year-old victim was found in the 34-year-old educator’s wallet, as well as jewelry that featured the victim’s initials, ABC 10 reported.
Love letters apparently exchanged in her classroom as well as text messages sent between Ma and the victim showed that Ma became frustrated when the victim didn’t respond to the exchanges quickly enough, prosecutors said.
Deputy District Attorney Drew Hart described Ma as “obsessive, possessive, controlling and dangerous” toward the victim, and argued the victim would be in danger if she was released. Ma faces up to 29 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.
The former “Teacher of the Year” began a sexual relationship with the victim when he was 12 years old, sent him racy photographs of herself and asked him to take and send her videos of himself engaging in sex acts, Hart said.
“This defendant maintained a relationship with this child for months, maybe even more than a year, when she began grooming him, giving him gifts, helping him with school, and praising him,” Hart said.
Ma was first arrested on March 7 after a parent of the victim suspected her 13-year-old son was “possibly having an inappropriate relationship with a former teacher,” the National City Police Department said.
She was charged with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 and three counts of oral copulation with a child under 14 and released on bond.
Ma was arrested again the next day and charged with sexual misconduct, witness intimidation and multiple counts of child pornography in connection to the same case.
She also reportedly tried to contact the victim after her first arrest, prosecutors said.
While her defense attorney Mario Vela requested Ma be released on her own recognizance, Superior Court Judge Carlos Varela ordered she is held without bail.
In making the decision for Ma to be held without bail, Varela cited her “position of trust” towards the victim and that one of the lewd acts counts involved duress
Officials with the National School District said that Ma has been placed on leave and “will not be returning to the campus.”