OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A former Fremont elementary school teacher was convicted Wednesday of 13 felony counts for molesting two young students nearly 20 years ago.
Jurors deliberated for only one day before delivering their verdict against Frank Montenegro, who’s now 53. He’ll be sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy on June 2.
Prosecutor Amanda Chavez alleged in her closing argument on Monday that Montenegro was a sexual predator who “was motivated by sexual urges in children” and preyed on two vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes.
Referring to charges that Montenegro sexually assaulted one of the boys at Montenegro’s home in Hayward, where the teacher was supposed to be helping the boy with his homework, Chavez said, “This predator, Montenegro, was supposed to be teaching his special education student, not raping him.”
The victim who allegedly was assaulted at Montenegro’s home testified last month that Montenegro began molesting him when he was an 8-year-old third grader at John Blacow Elementary School in Fremont in 1998 and the assaults continued until he was a 10-year-old fifth grader in 2001.
Chavez said Montenegro’s own sister, Genevieve Montenegro, was the first person to report him to police after seeing him with that boy in the bedroom of Montenegro’s home, where Montenegro lived with his siblings after their parents died.
Chavez said it took a long time for the boy to report the sexual abuse because Montenegro had warned him that he would never see his family again if he talked to anyone about the abuse.
Chavez said Montenegro, who had worked for the district since 1988, fled the Bay Area on July 19, 2001, when police were about to arrest him and went into hiding for 14 years by using a false name until FBI fugitive task force members found him and arrested him in the Los Angeles area on Aug. 15, 2015.
She told jurors that Montenegro’s long flight is evidence that he knew he was guilty.
Of the 13 counts for which Montenegro was convicted, 11 were for molesting the boy who had been in his home and 2 counts were for molesting the other alleged victim in the case.
Defense attorney Todd Bequette said in his closing argument that Montenegro is “an innocent man” and the prosecution failed to produce any DNA evidence, medical records, hotel receipts or confessions to prove that Montenegro had molested the two boys.
Bequette accused Fremont police Officer Teresa Martinez, who’s now retired, of “manipulating” one of the boys into accusing Montenegro of molesting him by using “egregious,” “deplorable” and “atrocious” tactics.
In a strange twist on the case, Chavez alleged at a hearing outside the presence of jurors on Feb. 28 that Montenegro had been masturbating in court that day while Bequette was cross-examining one of the alleged victims.
Bequette then asked that a mistrial be declared because he thought jurors might not be able to give Montenegro a fair trial.
But Murphy denied the defense motion after he questioned jurors individually and they said they hadn’t seen Montenegro do anything inappropriate.
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