A Walnut Creek middle school teacher was jailed on $16 million bail after he was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a child under the age of 10 and arranging to meet a minor for sex, officials said Monday.
Michael Bartel, 33, a science teacher at Walnut Creek Intermediate School, was charged in a 16-count criminal complaint filed by the Contra Costa County district attorney’s office.
He was arrested during a traffic stop at 1:30 p.m. Friday at Danville Boulevard and Camille Place in Alamo.
Bartel’s arrest did not involve current students at the school, said Marie Morgan, the superintendent of the Walnut Creek School District. An investigation is ongoing, she said.
Martinez police detectives launched an investigation after discovering that Bartel, who lives in Martinez, had posted online messages about molesting children, officials said. The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force joined the investigation, the district attorney’s office said.
On Friday afternoon, the Walnut Creek Police Department executed a search warrant at Bartel’s classroom at Walnut Creek Intermediate School and notified the school administration, the district attorney’s office said.
Investigators from the Martinez Police Department, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, Contra Costa County Crime Lab and the district attorney’s office searched Bartel’s home.
The charges against Bartel include multiple sex offenses committed against a child under the age of 10, including oral copulation, arranging to meet a minor for sex, and possession and distribution of child pornography.
Bartel began working as a science teacher at Walnut Creek Intermediate School in 2015. He is a graduate of California State University East Bay in Hayward and began teaching in 2011.
His hiring came after a thorough background check that included fingerprinting and review of the Department of Justice criminal background history, Morgan said.
There were no reports of any inappropriate behavior toward students in Bartel’s past and during his tenure at Walnut Creek Intermediate School, Morgan added.
A credentialed, retired teacher is currently substituting in Bartel’s classroom.
The school district is cooperating with the Contra Costa County district attorney’s investigation.
Bartel is being held at the Martinez Detention Facility. He is expected to appear in court for arraignment Tuesday.