Scandal: Teacher Megan Denman, 29, plead not guilty this morning at court in Fresno, California to having sex with an underage male student
A teacher appeared in court for the first time today and pleaded not guilty to having sex with an underage male student.
Megan Denman, 29, who teaches social studies and is the cheerleading coach, uttered only a few words as she faced the judge, accompanied only by her lawyer.
Six felony charges of lewd acts with a minor have been filed against her for liaisons that allegedly occurred between July 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011 before the boy turned 18.
The charges were three counts of unlawful sex with a minor and three counts of oral copulation with a minor. The judge ordered Denman to post $82,500 bail by her next hearing on May 22.
Denman has been barred from the classroom at Hoover High School in Fresno, California and is currently on paid administrative leave.
Her lawyer Roger Nuttall entered her plea at Fresno County Superior Court during the short hearing. Outside court he said his client was ‘embarrassed’ by the charges which are believed to involve only one student.
He said: ‘These charges are very difficult for her because she is highly respected. We will deal with them and hope for the best.’
‘Embarrassed’: Megan Denman is on administrative leave from Hoover High School while the charges against her are investigated
It is now up to authorities to decide whether there is enough information for Denman to stand trial.
Denman, who married 18 months ago, was arrested on April 9 but released after posting $55,000 bail.
The inappropriate relationship came to light on April 5 when the student was pulled over driving a car belonging to his 29-year-old teacher.
He was cited for a misdemeanor of driving without a license and without proof of insurance.
The sexual activity reportedly took place off the campus of Hoover High School while the student was 17.
The young man, who has now turned 18, was reluctant to pursue criminal charges against Denman, according to the Fresno Bee.
School chiefs expressed their ‘deep disappointment’ at Denman’s arrest in a letter to parents earlier this month.
Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said: ‘As we all know there have been incidents throughout the state of teachers taking advantage of the student/teacher relationship.
‘Unfortunately, we have learned of an alleged inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student in our own district. Words cannot describe my deep disappointment in this alleged breach of teacher/student relationship.
Hiding from view: Denman covered her head as she left the Fresno police station after posting $55,000 bail earlier this month
‘We have acted swiftly in taking the appropriate action in removing the teacher from the classroom and the school while these allegations are being investigated.
‘The overwhelming majority of our employees are working hard every day to assure the success of our students and our work will not be derailed by these allegations. We are cooperating fully with law enforcement.’
Former students commenting on a media report on ABC30′s website said they were stunned that Denman was involved with another student describing her as a ‘role model’.
Role model: Students said they were shocked by the allegations against the social studies teacher and one described the school as a place where ‘rumors were started’
One girl wrote: ‘Ms Denman was my teacher of two years and also my cheer coach. I have spent enough time with her to know that she was a great teacher/role model and that this news is incredibly shocking to me.
‘I can also say that Hoover is a high school with kids who like to start rumors and build bad reputations.’