WESTMINSTER (CBS) — A former Garden Grove elementary school teacher was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for molesting one of his first-grade students and grabbing the buttocks of a 12-year-old girl at a Santa Ana Walmart store.
Christopher Micah Brazelton, 39, was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting the first-grader and another two years for the Walmart groping, Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky said.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregg Prickett could have sentenced Brazelton up to 10 years in prison, Bokosky said.
Before Prickett handed down the sentence, Brazelton and several supporters denied any wrongdoing.
“He basically denied being guilty, professed his innocence and that he was wrongly accused,” Bokosky said. “He reiterated that he should be home with his family and children.”
Brazelton was taken into custody when he was convicted Oct. 20. He will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, and when he is released he will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, Bokosky said.
Brazelton was also charged with four other counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor related to three girls from one of his fourth-grade classes in 2006 and another first-grader, but jurors could not reach verdicts on those counts, Bokosky said. The prosecutor opted not to seek a retrial on those charges.
Brazelton, who was teaching first grade at Woodbury Elementary School in Garden Grove, was at a Santa Ana Walmart Oct. 1, 2008, in the school supplies aisle when he reached over and grabbed the buttocks of a 12-year-old girl, Bokosky said.
Two witnesses saw it and one man chased Brazelton through the store and made him return to apologize to the girl, Bokosky said.
Brazelton apologized but broke free and ran away again, but was detained until authorities could arrest him, Bokosky said. When investigators learned he taught first- and fourth-grade classes at the school they put out a public call for any other potential victims.
When the school’s principal asked students if they had been victims of Brazelton, three girls from one of his fourth-grade classes in 2006 said he would rub their thighs, and two first-graders alleged he would touch them on the thigh and rub their private parts over their clothes, Bokosky said.
A message left with defense attorney Roger Sheaks was not immediately returned.
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)