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Substitute Teacher from Cerritos Found Not Guilty in Student Molestation Case

Cerritos resident Ted Nishihara is still trying to pick up the pieces more than a month after a jury found him not guilty on allegations of inappropriately touching a Los Coyotes Middle School student.

Editor's Note: Check back soon for a more in-depth follow up report on Nishihara's current situation, including insight from some of his closest friends and supporters. 

A 29-year-old substitute teacher from Cerritos  involving a Los Coyotes Middle School student was found not guilty by a 12-person jury last month. 

After a 5-day trial that lasted from Aug. 6-10, a jury at the Downey Superior Court deliberated for less than 10 minutes before acquitting Ted Nishihara of one misdemeanor charge of molesting a student while substitute teaching at the La Mirada middle school on March 2, defense attorney Mark Werksman told Patch.

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Defense Attorney: The D.A.'s Office Should Have Never Filed The Case

While satisfied with the outcome, Werksman criticized the District Attorney's decision to prosecute the case. 

"The evidence in the case was weak and incredibly inconsistent, the D.A.'s office should have never filed it, as the jury obviously concluded," said Werksman. "Mr. Nishihara deserved better, he's a good teacher and a caring man and we're just glad it's over."

The defense attorney went on to say that he believed the criminal complaint may have been filed as a result of hypersensitivity in scandal-plagued atmosphere, given that the allegation against his client was made shortly after two Los Angeles Unified School District teachers were arrested for lewd acts and sexual crimes against students -- accusations that triggered a flurry of media coverage and a public outcry by the community.  

"It's an example of a prosecution based upon hysteria, overreaction and hypersensitivity involving accusations against teachers," Werksman said. 

"Mr. Nishihara is now going to have to pick up the pieces of his life and move on," Werksman added. "He has had to deal with the public humiliation and danger of a prosecution that could have resulted in him being registered sex offender for life -- he has been living this nightmare since March."

Nishihara, who had no prior criminal record, was and booked at the  after the mother of a Los Coyotes Middle School student told authorities that the substitute teacher had touched her daughter in a sexual manner during class. 

At the time, Nishihara -- who graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2006 with a Psychology degree -- had been regularly working as a substitute teacher in the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, the Garden Grove Unified School District and the . 

Prior to his arrest, at Willow Elementary School (in Lakewood), but after Los Angeles County Sheriff's detectives launched their investigation, he was released from his employment with all three districts.

When asked whether the ABC School District would consider re-hiring Nishihara as a substitute teacher since he was acquitted,  in an email replied:

"We are not accepting applications for substitute positions since we have a sufficient pool to draw from."

Nishihara Today: Just Trying to Figure Out "What God Has Planned For Him"

While Nishihara has not resumed substitute teaching since being acquitted last month, a close friend who has shared the same religious circles with him for the past 16 years told Patch that the religiously devout young man, who has dedicated his life to helping others, has been spending most of his time serving at Catalyst Christian Community Church in Long Beach. 

"I know he's been serving at his church a lot and spending time with friends," said Pastor Chris Fukunaga of A Village Community Church in Long Beach. "I think at this point, it's still pretty fresh since the case ended, so I don't think he's had time to look for work. I think right now, he's just trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and see what God has planned for him."

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE OUTCOME OF THIS CASE? DO YOU THINK HIS REPUTATION IS FOREVER TARNISHED AS A RESULT OF THE ALLEGATIONS, DESPITE HIS ACQUITTAL?

Cerritos Res September 12, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Marie you are honestly the first press person I've met that seems to have a sincere integrity in her and frankly your a beautiful girl too. I know reporting on an innocent man who was pretty much convicted in the eyes of the public is not a "sexy" story, but when it comes to you things are different. You seem to really care about getting the truth out when it comes to our city maybe because your a homegrown girl. Thank you for writing this update, even though it was late, Im glad the truth is out there about Ted. He's a good guy who should have never been put through this ordeal. Keep up the good work.
Robert Guerrero September 13, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I don't know this man or the student involved in this ordeal so i will not even comment regarding whether I feel he is innocent or guilty. That's not for me to decide. The jury heard the case and came to their determination. This guy's reputation will be FOREVER ruined. Just look at the ABC Unified Superintendent's response. They fired him in a rush to judgment and no doubt bowed to parental pressure. But now that he has been found innocent, to ABC District, it appears he is not worth more than a one sentence statement. I bet the district has curriculum in Civics that teaches about due process, yet it is my opinion that ABC probably conveniently forgot about practicing what they preach to the kids via curriculum...
ernie September 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM
The standard for a criminal case is different than the standard for a civil case or for a classroom. Innocent from a criminal standard is beyond a resonable doubt. We use that standard if we are going to deprive someone of their freedom. If the school procedures provide, there could be a separate procedure utilizing the relevant standard to determine employment. -- But I don't think it is required for the school to hire everyone or go through a detailed and expensive process for someone who is adjudicated innocent of a crime.
Richard Roehm September 15, 2012 at 06:42 AM
He needs to sue to get his name cleaned, and his life back. He needs to maintain the society's deterrence to false accusations.
Bob Aisawa September 16, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I agree... there has to be natural consequences for false accusations in order for the similar cases from happening. If nothing is done this will happen again. The only recourse is through legal action. I personally know two people whose lives were ruined as teachers and after requital. No legal action was taken in those cases. For the sake of the teachers everywhere, I hope Mr. Nishihara takes on the family, the school district for ruining his reputation. He should be fairly compensated for the damage done to him and his career. I wish him luck if he does pursue this.

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