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Teacher Pleads Not Guilty to 2 Charges of Molestation

January 07, 2006|From Associated Press

BAKERSFIELD — A seventh-grade teacher initially accused of lewd acts with a 12-year-old boy has pleaded not guilty to lesser charges.

Sherry Brians, 41, hugged and kissed the boy at Buttonwillow School several times, authorities said.

Brians pleaded not guilty Thursday in Kern County Superior Court to two misdemeanor counts of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18. If convicted, she faces a maximum fine of $1,000, one year in jail or both.

The boy's parents told authorities that they found a letter in their son's backpack that indicated the two had a romantic and physical relationship, said Sgt. Richard Wood of the Sheriff's Department.

Brians was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of lewd acts with a child -- a felony -- after voluntarily coming in for questioning, Wood said.

Authorities said they pursued misdemeanor charges after determining she did not have sexual contact with the boy.

Brians, whose bail was set at $5,000, remained in custody Friday afternoon. A pretrial hearing is scheduled Feb. 2.

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