See Update No. 3 at the bottom of Page 2 on Richard Rack facing sentencing in October for sexual crimes against three girl students. Update No. 2 on Page is about the ex-middle school teacher's surprise guilty plea to sexual misconduct. Update No. 1 is about an accuser testifying her teacher went easy on her in class after she sent him frontal nude photos of herself.
ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 19, 7 A.M.: A San Clemente middle school math teacher faces trial today for allegedly assaulting an 8th-grade female student sexually while alone with her on campus and committing lewd acts against two other teen girl students.
Richard John Rack, 51, of San Clemente, could be drawing up math quizzes in state prison for 12 years and eight months and be a registered sex offender for infinity with a conviction.
Rack, who had been teaching at Shorecliffs since 2002, allegedly engaged in lewd touching and oral copulation with a 14-year-old girl between February 2009 and October 2010, primarily while alone with her on campus.
Two other girls who were 13 and 14 between April and November 2011 accused Rack of hugging and making lewd comments to them. One girl told the school principal about the conduct, prompting an Orange County Sheriff's Department investigation and Rack's arrest on June 6, 2012, related to the two girls.
The alleged conduct with the first girl was uncovered after Rack's arrest. I reported later in June 2012 about two additional girls who came forward with allegations--for a total of five--but the trial today only concerns the accusations of the original three alleged victims.
Rack is charged with six felony counts of lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, one felony count of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14, and one felony count of oral copulation of a minor under 16.
UPDATE NO. 1, AUG. 21, 10:59 A.M.: After a girl who is now a 16-year-old junior in high school "accidentally" sent her middle-school teacher Richard Rack a nude photo of her . . . well . . . rack, things got easier for her in his math class, she testified in court this week.
The girl claims she meant to send the frontal photo to a boy she liked via Facebook, but after Rack received it, he indicated he liked what he saw, so she sent him two more, according to her testimony.
That, she said, led to her becoming the teacher's pet and being spared homework and classwork while her classmates toiled. "If I didn't understand the question, he'd pretty much do it for me," said the girl, unidentified because of her age and status as an alleged sex-crime victim (via San Clemente Patch).
The girl would go on to accuse Rack of having hugged her and kissed her on the forehead (when she was crying over a boy while alone with him; she often lunched with the teacher). He once sported an erection under his pants in front her, she claimed.
Rack rose the suspicions of the girl's mom when, she says, he showed up unannounced at the beach they were visiting and her daughter's hot yoga class. She claimed to later find the teacher's number on bills for her daughter's cell phone. When the mom says she discovered the more than 2,000 texts and 32 photos exchanged between the two included three frontal nudes of her pride and joy, she called the cops.
Deputy District Attorney Vanessa Woods had previously told a jury during opening statements that Rack would "test" middle school girls by holding their hands and praising their appearance. If they responded favorably, the teacher would move on to hugging and kissing, the prosecutor alleged.
This eventually morphed into sexting and, in the case of one young teen girl, oral sex, Woods charged.
Defense attorney David Cohn countered in his opening that Rack was simply a nice teacher whom students knew they could turn to for help them with problems both personal and mathematical. Some students testifying against his client have motives to lie, claimed Cohn, who accused some of the girls of having "daddy issues."
It's up to a six-man, six-woman jury to determine how the evidence adds up.
UPDATE NO. 2, AUG. 26, 12:15 P.M.: Richard Rack reportedly made a surprise guilty plea this morning to four of eight counts of sexual misconduct with female students; the remaining four charges will be dismissed against the former middle school teacher.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Hanson could still sentence Rack to up to 10 years in state prison, San Clemente Patch reports.
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UPDATE NO. 3, AUG. 26, 4:23 P.M.: After the prosecution rested today, Rack pleaded guilty the sexually assaulting an 8th grade female student while alone with her on campus and committing lewd acts against two other female students, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.
The 51-year-old is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 18 in Santa Ana after copping to two felony counts of lewd acts on a child age 14 or 15, one felony count of lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under 14, and one felony count of oral copulation of a minor under 16.
Besides up to 10 years in state prison, Rack faces mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.