A Dos Palos High School math teacher, Craig Branstetter, was arrested in January 2017 for having unlawful sex with a minor and sending harmful material. The 16-year-old female victim was his student at Dos Palos High School, which is part of the Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Union School District.
The victim told police that she had known the teacher for two years prior, but the inappropriate and sexual activity did not begin until she was in his math class. They had exchanged social media usernames at the beginning of the school year, and that is when Branstetter started to annoy the victim through social media exchanges.
The victim claimed that Branstetter constantly pursued a sexual relationship with her through social media messages, during or after school, by giving hugs after class and giving her credit for missed assignments. He first kissed her, inside his classroom, when she went to retrieve a forgotten notebook. Over time, she said she would send him post-workout pictures, and he would reply with nude photos of himself. The victim said they had sex three times in his car.
Eventually, the victim’s mom and brother discovered the inappropriate messages and reported Branstetter to the school. During the investigation, Branstetter was placed on paid administrative leave. DPOLJUSD Superintendent Bill Spalding said there was insufficient evidence for continuing the investigation, and Branstetter was allowed to return to work. However, once the school probe was over, Branstetter continued to message the victim and resume his inappropriate activities.
It was at that time that the Dos Palos Police Department opened an investigation, as Chief Barry Mann said: “they were not part of the initial investigation.”
Branstetter was arrested and initially charged with having sex, molesting, and sending harmful material to a minor. He was going to plead not guilty but decided on a no-contest plea deal. He was sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation for a felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. He also escaped having to register as a sex offender as part of the plea deal.
When you need an experienced attorney for your case
So many questions arise with this case. Why did the school district investigate? Why was law enforcement not immediately notified?
The experienced attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard have helped numerous sexual assault victims find solutions that work for each individual’s case. If you, or a loved one, have experienced sexual abuse and need help, give us a call at (408) 289-1417 for a free and confidential consultation.