Heather A. Butts, an English and drama teacher at Taylor Middle School in Millbrae, pleaded no contest to one felony count of a lewd act with a 15-year-old girl. As part of the plea deal, a second felony and a misdemeanor for violating a court order prohibiting contact with the victim were dismissed.
In December 2017, Butts was sentenced to 120 days in jail, three years supervised probation, and also required to register as a sex offender, which prohibits her contact with minors. Her teaching credential was revoked in February 2018.
The victim, now in high school, was a former pupil of Butts while attending Taylor Middle School, part of the Millbrae School District. The criminal activity started when the student was 13-years-old.
In August 2016, police responded to an anonymous tip that identified Butts and a girl kissing in a white van near Lomita Park Elementary School in San Bruno. Police found Butts alone in the van, and the girl was found close by.
Although Butts was arrested in August 2016, an ABC7 Investigation discovered that a parent filed a police report with Millbrae Police in October 2015. The parent, his child, and other students were interviewed, and screenshots of social media message exchanges were included.
In February 2016, the same parent also filed a report with the school’s Dean of Students. However, neither the Millbrae Police Department nor school pursued investigative action, as Butts continued to teach for nearly a year. Eventually, the police department and school launched internal investigations as to why these reports were not investigated promptly.
Unfortunately, when schools investigate teachers internally rather than call the police as mandated reporters, the evidence is lost, and crimes are possibly covered up. This is unacceptable.
The effect of childhood sexual assault
Despite the victim believing she and Butts were in love, this crime was still improper. Sexual predators groom their victims over time so that victims’ are unaware of ongoing improper behaviors. Unfortunately, stories of students being sexually assaulted by teachers are becoming all too common in the news. The feelings of being sexually assaulted last a lifetime.
Contact a law firm with experience with child sexual assault cases
At Corsiglia, McMahon, & Allard, we have a long history of representing sexual assault victims against their abuser and the institution that enabled the perpetrator’s illegal behavior. If you, or a loved one, have been a victim of sexual assault, please call 408-289-1417 for a free and confidential consultation.