- Published on Tuesday, 13 May 2003 20:57
- Written by Linda Taaffe - Town Crier Staff Writer
Sexual misconduct charges against the St. Francis High School teacher accused of fondling a student in November 2001 have been dismissed. Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Pinaki Chakravorty determined there wasn't enough evidence uncovered during the yearlong investigation to prosecute English teacher Michael Kemp.
"The People's decision to dismiss the charges in this case is ... not a commentary on the truth or untruth of the charges. It only means that at this time, the People have insufficient evidence to proceed within the criminal context. It is unlikely that the People will be able to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt," Chakravorty told Judge Charles Corey. Kemp was exonerated Jan. 13.
St. Francis High School officials reinstated Kemp as a full-time teacher March 18 after a school review team conducted its own investigation.
"The review team concluded that none of the allegations put forth were sustainable. We studied the report and reviewed the supporting documents," said St. Francis President Kevin Makley.
Kemp has been assigned to special duties for this semester and will be offered his normal teaching contract next year, Makley added.
Kemp has taught English and coached freshman soccer at the Catholic school in Mountain View over the past 16 years.
The Los Altos resident had been on administrative leave since December 2001 and was temporarily banned from the school and from contact with any minors under a restraining order issued by the judge.
Mountain View Police arrested Kemp, 39, on misdemeanor child molestation and battery charges Dec. 28, 2001, after a 15-year-old student alleged that Kemp had touched her breast under her blouse during an early morning meeting Nov. 26 to discuss an essay she had written for his Honors English class.
Mountain View police concluded there was enough evidence to arrest Kemp based on numerous student interviews and similarities between the 15-year-old's story and an alleged incident in December 2000 involving another student who came forward during the investigation.
The Los Altos teen told Mountain View police investigators that she hadn't reported the incident because she was embarrassed and did not file charges against Kemp after the first student came forward because the statute of limitations had expired.
Chakravorty subpoenaed seating charts, recorded grades, extra credit records and teacher performance records.
Chakravorty said he was unable to prove or disprove Kemp's alibi on the morning the 15-year-old student said he met with her. School records show that Kemp had traffic duty at 7:30 a.m. in front of the school. No witnesses could confirm seeing Kemp on duty or in the room with the teen.
Doubts about the girl's credibility arose in April 2002 after the 15-year-old received a disciplinary citation for "dishonesty regarding final exam." School officials said she tried to alter a grade on her mathematics exam while her semester grade was being disputed. Chakravorty said the incident "negatively impacted the presentation of the case."
School records showed Kemp consistently received high marks on his annual school evaluations.
Friends and colleagues bombarded the judge with testimonials of Kemp's character, describing him as a responsible and well-prepared teacher.
Kemp, who had pleaded innocent to the charges, passed a private polygraph test last November.
Chakravorty filed to dismiss the case the following month.
The teen still attends St. Francis, where she has earned athletic and academic honors.