Bakersfield Police said Wednesday they will not recommend charges for the Garces High School teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student in the 1970's.
They say it's because the incident was reported more than 35 years after it allegedly happened. Authorities say the former Garces student came forward a little more than a week ago, claiming a teacher who's still employed at the school, molested her in 1976.
Police said it's not that they don't believe the woman's claim, it's because the statute of limitations prevents them from charging the alleged offender. According to Bakersfield police, the alleged assault took place off campus.
Police said the woman came forward 36 years later because the incident was stressing her and she feared for other students because the alleged offender was still teaching.
After reviewing the case, police decided they could not recommend charges.
"We are not saying that the case did not occur or that the incident didn't happen," said BPD Detective Uriel Pacheco.
What Bakersfield police are saying is because the alleged incident was reported so many years later, due to the statute of limitations, they can't pursue the case. However police are still investigating the teacher.
"We want the public or the community, if there is a victim or someone knows of a victim, to call the Bakersfield Police Department," said Det. Pacheco.
The Alliance Against Family Violence counsels victims of sexual assault. They say coming forward years later is common.
"It's not unusual for individuals to hold that information until much later in their lives," said Louis Gill, Alliance Against Family Violence.
Gill said people should not be blamed for coming forward, but rather praised for having the courage to speak up.
"It takes courage to talk about something painful, and sexual assault can only be described as something painful," said Gill.
As of Tuesday, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese said the teacher was on administrative leave.
There is no word yet on whether the teacher will return to the classroom.
If you believe you are a victim or know someone who believes they were a victim of sexual assault, call 327-7111.