Another Hot Teach Pleads Guilty to Sex

LOS ANGELES – A 29-year-old woman pleaded guilty Wednesday to lewd acts with three boys she met as a charter middle school English teacher and a substitute in an Orange Unified School District classroom, prosecutors said.Images

Sarah Bench-Salorio is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 18, according to Mark Macaulay of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Bench-Salorio, who was set to go to trial Monday, entered her plea to 29 counts before Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Toohey under an “indicated sentence” of between three and six years, defense attorney Allan Stokke said.

“My client concluded it was in her best interest to plead guilty and get a sentence of between three and six years as opposed to 64 years,” which she could have faced as a maximum term if the case had gone to trial, Stokke said. Deputy District Attorney John Christl called Bench-Salorio a “sexual predator.”

“She betrayed the trust of not only the victims, but the victims’ families and the community as a whole,” the prosecutor said. “This conviction assures that she will never have the opportunity to teach or prey upon our children again.”

She will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of her life, Macaulay said.

Bench-Salorio was teaching English at Santiago Charter Middle School at the time of her Jan. 4 arrest. She had been a long-term substitute teacher at Panorama Elementary before joining Santiago in 2003.

According to testimony at her preliminary hearing, Bench-Salorio had sex with two of her 13-year-old students in her home, her car and in their homes.

She was also accused of improper touching with a third boy, who came forward after the prosecution involving the other two began.

Bench-Salorio molested “John Doe 2” between May 2003 and September 2004, beginning when he was in the fifth grade at Panorama, Macaulay said.

The acts with “John Doe 1,” which occurred between Sept. 1 and Dec. 28 of last year, were the first to come to the attention of authorities, he said.

She put her hand on the third boy’s thigh and moved it toward his groin one day last summer, according to authorities.

The boys were seduced over dinners, through e-mails and phone calls for months before she molested them, Macaulay said. Stokke said Christl wanted his client to serve at least 10 years in prison, but Toohey “indicated that the sentence is a fair resolution.”

Stokke said he will present doctor’s reports and “all kinds of information” from “various people to show her absolutely excellent background” to try and persuade the judge to imposed the lower term.

Bench-Salorio suffers from a bipolar condition and depression, he said.

The conduct arose, Stokke said, because Bench-Salorio felt she was in a “much more comfortable relationship with the boys than with her husband at the time.”

Her family members, including her husband, have stood by her, Stokke said.

District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas said the “seriousness of these crimes is not lessened by the fact that the perpetrator is a woman and the victims are boys.”

“The defendant is a sex offender who was entrusted with teaching these boys how to read and write,” he said. “Instead, these victims had to learn lessons they should not know about as such a young age.”

Bench-Salorio was held in lieu of $500,000 bond. Prosecutors, concerned that she would try and contact the boys, had argued against lowering bond.

Christl said after a previous hearing that John Doe 2 testified he and Bench-Salorio had sex four to five times a week, and that the activity began when he was 11.

The prosecutor said the sex consisted of intercourse, oral copulation and masturbation.

John Doe 1 estimated the number of times he and his teacher had sex by the condoms in a box that he went through — 22 of them, he said — and added that sometimes no condom was used, according to Christl.

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