Former La Jolla Country Day teacher gets probation for sex with student | #teacher | #children | #kids

A former La Jolla Country Day School teacher was placed on probation Thursday for a term of three years after he admitted having sex with a 17-year-old girl who had been his student.

Jonathan Sammartino, 37, pleaded guilty in August to a felony charge of having unlawful sex with a minor. In addition to formal probation, he must perform 400 hours of community service.

He was ordered not to work as a teacher during his probation — but attorneys on both sides acknowledged that he will never find employment in the field again, given his particular felony conviction.

Sammartino, son of U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino, apologized during the hearing.

“I am very sorry for everything that has happened and for the misery caused by my unfortunate involvement with (the victim),” he said. “I know that my behavior has disrupted her life, my own life and the community.”

San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers listed several reasons behind his sentencing decision, including apologies from the defendant before he knew of the police investigation.

“I am satisfied and I find that Mr. Sammartino’s remorse is genuine and sincere and not motivated by the fact of the criminal prosecution,” Rogers said.

The judge opted not to require Sammartino to register as a sex offender.

Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle said the victim wanted to see the case resolve without going to trial, and wanted to “move on.”

Rogers commended the victim for coming forward to report, saying it was “absolutely the right thing to do.” He said that any self-blame she may have is “misplaced.” The legal and moral duty was on Sammartino.

“To put it bluntly, this was his doing,” Rogers said.

Defense attorney Eugene Iredale said his client has said suffered “very real punishment’ from “collateral consequences” — the loss of his career, the loss of his marriage and embarrassment in the community.

Iredale has also argued that his client had a serious bicycle accident in 2015 that left him with a brain injury that affected his ability to regulate his emotions and judgment.

The judge said Thursday he reviewed reports and heard “hours of testimony” regarding Sammartino’s crash and was “satisfied that he suffered very real impairment and judgment and impulse control as a result of that bicycling accident.”

According to court documents, Sammartino engaged in sexual acts with the victim at his home and in his car between April and September 2016 — a period that covered the end of her senior year and the months after her graduation. It started when Sammartino was 33 and married. The victim was 17.

According to an arrest warrant, the victim disclosed the sexual encounters to a friend in 2016. In July 2018, while a college student in Northern California, she filed a police report.

Sammartino was arrested in September 2018 in San Jose, where he had just started a job teaching Advanced Placement psychology at an elite college prep school.

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