SALINAS (BCN) — A former high school biology teacher pleaded no contest in a Salinas federal courtroom Friday that he had sex with two of his former students.

Juan Govea, a 40-year-old former teacher at Salinas High School, did not offer a defense of the charges — one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and one count of oral copulation of a minor under 18 — resulting in the court treating him as guilty. The plea avoids a public trial but Govea retains the option of denying the charges in any subsequent legal proceedings.

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The charges stem from Govea’s actions 2014 and 2016, according to a news release issued Friday by the office of Monterey County District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni.

The case in 2016 was the first to come to light when police received reports of unlawful sex between a former teacher and his former student. While Govea was no longer a teacher at the school at the time of the relationship, his victim was a 17-year-old senior who had previously been a student in his class. In their investigation, police uncovered text messages between Govea and the student that were consistent with a sexual relationship.

However, when the student decided to not to cooperate with the prosecution, the case was dismissed without prejudice.

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In the summer of 2021, that student asked prosecutors to refile the charges, when she became concerned about other potential victims after she learned of a second student who had come forward.

The second student posted in 2020 on social media that she had been a victim of sexual abuse by Govea in 2014, when he was still employed as a teacher at Salinas High School.

Prosecutors then brought charges against Govea involving both former students.

Judge Gilbert Brown will preside over the sentencing hearing set on March 25. Govea will be required to register as a sex offender upon release for 10 years, as mandated by state law for nonforcible sex offenses.

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