Teacher sentenced to 5 years for molestation

September 25, 2009 1:28:56 PM PDT
A former San Francisco middle school teacher and coach arrested in March for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old female student was sentenced in San Francisco Superior Court today to five years in state prison.

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Marina Middle School teacher Stephen Pedersen, 45, pleaded guilty earlier this month to two felony counts of committing lewd acts on a child.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Judge Cynthia Ming-Mei Lee sentenced Pedersen today to three- and two-year consecutive sentences for both counts. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim and to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Prosecutors alleged that Pedersen, who taught language arts and social studies and was a volleyball coach, developed a romantic relationship with the girl that lasted more than a year and took her on "romantic dates," including movies, at various locations in the city.

Prosecutor Asit Panwala read a statement from the victim, who appeared in court for the sentencing, this morning.

"This has hurt me because everyday, I had to go through it and it made me very sad and I was so scared that people would find out about this situation," the statement read. "My family and I had suffered a lot about this and I really wished it never happened."

Pedersen did not address the court directly today, but he apologized through his attorney.

The relationship was reported to school officials and police after a member of the school staff reportedly saw Pedersen kiss the girl after school in the gymnasium.

School officials immediately notified police and removed him from teaching, according to San Francisco Unified School District spokeswoman Gentle Blythe. They placed Pedersen on unpaid leave when he was criminally charged, and after the plea, his California teaching credential was revoked.

A background check on Pedersen, who began teaching at the school in 2001, revealed no prior felonies, according to the school district.

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