CHULA VISTA, Calif. — A National City educator made a video appearance before a judge, following an alleged inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old former student. She was recently named “Teacher of the Year” and now faces more than a dozen felony charges.
Sixth-grade teacher Jacqueline Ma pleaded not guilty to now 15 felony charges including child sex abuse and child pornography charges. During that hearing, media learned new details regarding photos and videos of the victim, including a photo found in her wallet and love letters in her classroom at the time of her arrest.
“When she was arrested, she had a photograph of the victim in her wallet, she had jewelry with his initials, love letters were discovered in her classroom. In some of the messages, she expressed frustration at the child for not responding to the situation quicker. She expressed jealousy when the victim was talking to other girls,” shared Deputy District Attorney Drew Hart Monday. Hart also called the defendant “…obsessive, possessive, controlling, and dangerous.”
Meanwhile, Ma’s attorney argued for her release on her own recognizance, citing a clean criminal record, her husband and familial support in this case, along with years of education experience. According to online records, Ma has held a California Teaching Credential since 2013.
“I don’t believe that the people are able to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the most restrictive means is that she remains in custody, especially on a no bail hold,” expressed Defense Attorney Mario Vela.
The judge, however, did deem the defendant a flight risk, holding Ma on a no bail status.
“We are obviously disappointed with the judge’s decision, we do not feel that Ms. Ma is a flight risk or a danger to the community in spite of all the charges that the people have filed in this case,” Vela said.
Ma was arrested at school Tuesday for the allegations, posted bond, and was rearrested on additional charges Thursday. Now, she faces up to 15 felony charges including lewd acts with a child along with possession of child pornography.
“In these messages the defendant was persistent in sending illicit photographs of herself to the victim and then soliciting the victim to do the same. She would persistently direct him to engage in sex acts while he was at home and record them,” Hart said.
The prosecution also argues that Ma encouraged the victim to communicate through a texting app while encouraging the child to hide their messages.
“The victim expressed at times, not willingness to go along with some of the activities or uncomfortableness with the activities, but that did not stop the defendant from continuing to message,” Hart said.
Next in this case, a bail review is scheduled for March 16, where Ma’s defense attorneys will argue for her release once again and for what they’re calling reasonable bail.
If convicted of all 15 charges, Ma faces up to 29 years in state prison.