No charges filed in alleged teacher sex case

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. — No charges were filed Wednesday as prosecutors continued to review the case against a Chula Vista High School “teacher of the year” nominee accused of carrying on a several-year sexual relationship with an underage student.

Detectives arrested ninth-grade English instructor Terrance Lee Smith, 32, at a Sweetwater Union High School District office on Monday morning.

Ten days earlier, the alleged victim reported the purported crimes, saying they had occurred between 2006 and 2008, starting when she was 16, Capt. Gary Wedge said.

Investigators believe that Smith may have engaged in similar illegal acts with at least one other student, though no additional alleged victims have been identified.

“We are encouraged that the DA has decided to make an investigation,” defense attorney David Shapiro said regarding the lack of charges filed. “Whenever there is situation involving allegation of this kind credibility is certainly an issue.  It certainly would be our position if this case gets filed…credibility is a gigantic issue.”

This is good news that may mean there’s not enough evidence or the victim’s story is changing, Shapiro said.

Hundreds of students rallied on campus Wednesday to show of support for Smith.  They held signs reading “Save Mr. Smith”.

“Mr. Smith’s reputation is ruined and this girl – no one knows who she is,” said another former student.

Smith — held in lieu of $350,000 bail — was expected to be released from custody Wednesday evening as prosecutors determined what, if any, charges to file.

Smith was one of 42 local educators nominated for one of the county’s five 2012-13 teacher-of-the-year awards. He was not among the winners, who were named this month.

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