A 48-year-old Mountain View High School teacher arrested in November for allegedly sending inappropriate text messages to a student waived his formal arraignment Jan. 8 and entered a plea of not guilty.
Evan Smith, a math teacher at the school for 15 years, is charged with one felony count of knowingly sending a minor harmful matter with the intent of “arousing, appealing to and gratifying ... lust and passions and sexual desires.” His plea date is scheduled 9 a.m. Feb. 26 at Santa Clara County’s Palo Alto Courthouse.
If Smith is convicted of the offense, the Mountain View resident would be required to register as a sex offender and could spend anywhere from a year in county jail to more than a year in state prison, based on the California Penal Code.
Police reports obtained by the Town Crier detail Smith’s correspondence with the alleged victim, a student at the high school. Their interaction began with a few messages via Facebook Messenger last summer. Smith contacted the victim via text message Oct. 12, despite the fact that she did not provide him with her cellphone number. His texts were nonsexual at first, police reports stated, but that changed after a lunch outing in October when the victim confided in Smith about a troubling experience and sought his advice.
A few weeks later, Smith began asking the victim increasingly detailed questions about her sexual history, to which she replied that she felt uncomfortable with his inquiries. According to the report, Smith said he was interested in her responses because he had never been a teenage girl.
As the texts continued, Smith began to brag about his sexual encounters and abilities. The victim and her friend then wrote a text to Smith saying, “I don’t want to talk ever again about this anymore tho (sic); I feel uncomfortable right now.” Smith replied, “OK, no worries.” He then asked her not to share the text messages with anyone.
But Nov. 5, the texts continued. At that point, the victim approached a school counselor, who contacted the Mountain View Police Department. The victim told the investigating officer that she had previously trusted Smith but now believed that his ultimate goal was to have sex with her. She added that she was scared he might rape her or not give her a letter of recommendation for college. The victim also provided the names of two other students with whom Smith was corresponding.
Smith was arrested Nov. 7 and cooperated with police in a search of his apartment. In his statement to police, Smith said he saw himself as a “male father figure” to the victim. He told police that he was not attracted to the victim, nor did he see anything wrong with the messages he sent her.
When asked by the Town Crier to speculate why Smith pleaded not guilty when texts showed inappropriate communication with a minor, Deputy District Attorney Lindsay Walsh said that “99 percent of defendants plead not guilty in the beginning. It has nothing to do with how strong the evidence is.” Smith’s lawyer, Steven Clark, declined to comment on the case.
Smith was released on $25,000 bail Nov. 8, a day after the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing suspended his teaching credentials.
Smith was placed on paid administrative leave upon his arrest. Cynthia Greaves, communications manager for the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District, said Smith’s status of leave is in motion, and she was unable to comment on whether he was still being paid.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) provides a free and confidential 24/7 hotline for support and to aid in next steps in reporting and long-term counseling. The hotline can be reached at (800) 656-4673.
RAINN also offers an online chat service that can be accessed at online.rainn.org.
Parents can find more information on talking to their kids about sexual assualt at rainn.org/safety-parents.
Resources for students are available at rainn.org/safety-students.