NEWPORT BEACH (CBS) — A now-retired Laguna Hills High School teacher who pleaded guilty to having sex with a student was sentenced Wednesday to a year in jail and three years of formal probation.
David Araya, 57, was also ordered by Orange County Superior Court Judge Michael Leversen to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and to enroll in a sex-offender treatment program.
Araya, who taught Spanish classes, pleaded guilty in September to luring a child with an intent to commit a crime, oral copulation of a child and unlawful sex, all felonies — and two misdemeanor counts of annoying or
molesting a child.
Araya started the sexual relationship with the student in August 2009, according to Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The girl’s mother discovered the relationship when she checked her daughter’s Facebook
account and saw sexually charged communications between the girl and her teacher, he said.
Araya taught at the high school for about 10 years, but retired when investigators confronted him about the relationship, Amormino said.
The girl was 17 years old at the time, his attorney said. Students at the high school were allowed to choose a classroom in which to spend a free period, and she picked Araya’s classroom, defense attorney Doug Myers said.
“Over the course of time, a consensual, but obviously wrong, relationship developed,” Myers said.
The two engaged in “sexual contact” three times in September and October 2009 in Araya’s classroom, he added.
“Mr. Araya, from the beginning of my dealings with him, always took responsibility and tried to make amends to the people he hurt, including the victim, her mother and her father,” Myers said.
Araya enrolled in a treatment program six months before charges were filed, the attorney said.
“This (sentencing) was really the culmination of him being in treatment for 16 to 17 months and wanting to take responsibility and put the whole situation behind him,” Myers said.
The judge offered the plea deal, Myers said, noting that Deputy District Attorney Angela Hong had sought a two-year prison sentence.
Attempts to reach Hong after business hours were unsuccessful.
Araya was “a highly regarded teacher” for about 30 years, Myers said.
“I have a stack of letters from former students (written on his behalf). This was really an isolated situation with one student that occurred under unusual circumstances.”