COSTA MESA (CBSLA) – A 25-year-old drama teacher at Costa Mesa High School has been arrested on allegations he molested a 13-year-old boy several years ago.
Brandon Jacob Nease of Orange committed lewd acts on a 13-year-old boy beginning in 2011, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He was taken into custody Tuesday on suspicion of felony child molestation.
Deputies did not confirm how Nease met the alleged victim. They said the inappropriate contact took place over a two-year period.
Officials said the alleged victim was doing research on social media when he saw that Nease was on staff at Costa Mesa High.
“He told investigators that he didn’t want others to be victimized the way he was,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Carol Almaguer. “And that really empowered him and gave him the courage to come forward and report these allegations.”
Nease has taught at Costa Mesa High for the past year-and-a-half, the sheriff’s department said. He has been placed on administrative leave, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District confirmed to CBS2 Wednesday.
Nease has held several teaching positions around the county and authorities believe he could have more victims.
From 2008 to 2016, Nease was a choreographer for the Musical Theater Village in Irvine, deputies said. From 2012 to 2015, he was a dance specialist at Camp James in Newport Beach. He was an education coordinator for Musical Theater West in Long Beach from 2015 to 2017. He also taught dance at the Boys and Girls Club in Tustin and Fountain Valley beginning in 2013.
In its statement, Newport-Mesa Unified said none of its “current or former” students are believed to be part of the investigation.
“We have been informed that Brandon Nease, a drama teacher at Costa Mesa High School, was arrested last night,” the district wrote. “Based on information provided to us by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, we do not believe this matter involves any current or former Newport-Mesa Unified School District students. Mr. Nease has been placed on administrative leave.”
Current and former Costa Mesa High students told CBS2 Wednesday they were shocked when they heard about the allegations and the arrest.
“My stepmom called me,” said a former drama student. “And I think it was the worse news I’ve ever gotten.”
“He was more like a friend than a teacher to us,” she explained. “He mentored us, he was very funny.”
Another also described Nease as friendly, adding that he always talked about his wife.
Nease was released on $100,000 bail Wednesday. Anyone with additional information on the case should contact sheriff’s investigators at 714-647-7419.