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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | NORTHWEST: HUNTINGTON
BEACH

Teacher Accused of Molestation Posts Bail

October 08, 1998|DANIEL YI

A Huntington Beach elementary schoolteacher accused of molesting six of his students posted bail Wednesday, one day after his arrest.

Jeffrey Kent Atkinson, 53, of Laguna Niguel, faces six felony counts of child molestation. All six victims were girls between the age of 8 and 10, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Laurie Hungerford.

An Orange County Superior Court judge in Westminster reduced Atkinson's bail from $50,000 to $25,000 Wednesday morning, and Atkins was released by the afternoon, officials said. Atkinson is expected to plead not guilty at his arraignment, scheduled for Oct. 20.

A third-grade teacher at William T. Newland Elementary School, Atkinson surrendered to authorities Tuesday. He is reportedly well liked by his students and their parents, many of whom expressed shock about his arrest, his attorney said.

"I am surprised that the [District Attorney's] office even filed the case," said Atkinson's attorney, Fred Anderson, who said his client intends to fight the charges.

Atkinson has been a primary school teacher at the Fountain Valley Unified School District for more than 24 years, a district official said. The district placed him on administrative leave in August after it learned of the allegations and the police investigation.

"Our position is to cooperate with the district attorney's office and police," executive assistant to the superintendent Susan Grantham said Wednesday. "Future action will depend on the outcome of the case."

Details were sketchy regarding the nature of the allegations.

Huntington Beach police spokesman Lt. Jon Arnold said detectives were "tight lipped" about their investigation because "they don't want to jeopardize any other witnesses who may come forward."

Arnold could not say when police began investigating Atkinson, but said allegations were first made to patrol officers who filed a report and passed it on to detectives. All alleged crimes happened between 1997 and early 1998, he said.

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