Gilroy Sex Offender Teacher Set Free

Doug Le

A former Gilroy High School teacher has been sentenced to time served, or 16 months of a possible 11-year prison term, for soliciting nude photos of young boys and other sex crimes.
The bizarre case jolted the farm town turned Silicon Valley suburb, sparked lawsuits against school officials and added a high-tech twist to the bag of tricks predators use to entice victims.
Douglas Le, 26, was sentenced March 24 by Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Socrates Manoukian to serve 16 months in the California Department of Corrections–but he never served in prison.
He was given credit for 243 days in custody plus an additional 242 credits, or 485 days, which equals 16 months, and was set free.
The judge ordered Le into therapy, to stay away from schools, to stay employed and to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender.
The San Jose man and popular Gilroy chemistry and biotech teacher had taught for nearly three years in Gilroy when he was arrested by San Jose police in April 2016 and charged with sex crimes involving minors.
The arrest followed a police investigation that began after Le’s unusual online activity was detected by a Facebook security team. The team alerted authorities including a federal child sex crimes task force and San Jose police, authorities said.
Investigators reported that hundreds of minors, apparently almost exclusively boys, were contacted via the Internet and cell phones with sexually charged come-ons in which Le dressed as a girl to lure them into sending him their nude photos. Investigators found some of those photos in Le’s possession.
In the end, the Bellarmine Preparatory High School, UC Berkeley and Brown University graduate plead no contest to 19 felony counts involving nine victims, some from Gilroy High School and some from San Jose, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Jaron Shipp, who prosecuted the case.
Shipp called it a new and “cutting edge type of sex crime” in which the predator posed as woman to lure victims over the Internet.
He recommended a three-year prison term as appropriate given that Le pleaded guilty to all the charges filed, Shipp said Monday, but that the final decision was the judge’s.
Le plead no contest to one count of possession of child pornography and nine counts each of sending harmful matter to a minor and communicating with a minor with intent to commit a sex crime.
No contest pleas are treated in the criminal justice system just like guilty ones, but they carry no weight in a civil case.
Shipp had requested a continuation of the sentencing, citing unspecified, “new information we had” that he wanted to explore, but the judge said no, according to the Deputy DA.
He declined to comment on whether new allegations beyond those in the 19 counts have surfaced involving Le and that could lead to future prosecutions of the disgraced former teacher.
Shipp said Le “abused” his position to “steal the innocence” of children who looked up him and relied on him to help them in life.
The already spectacularly sordid case further rocked Gilroy when a parent came forward after Le’s arrest and revealed she had complained more than a year earlier about his lurid behaviour toward her daughter and yet he was allowed to continue to teach and have contact with students—including as a sports team coach.
The parent, Celeste Benn, said when she tried to talk with GHS principal Marco Sanchez and Gilroy schools superintendent Debbie Flores she was rebuffed.
It was not until Le’s arrest that Flores revealed he had been disciplined in the earlier case. His misbehaviour, sending inappropriate texts to a student, did not rise to the level of termination or criminality, Flores said.
Not everyone agreed. Benn and at least two other families have pending lawsuits against the school district that allege officials did not respond properly to protect children when warned about Le.
School officials last year were set to fire the young teacher but he resigned first.
Well-known civil rights attorney Gloria Allred of Los Angeles represents the Gilroy families.
Allred was at the sentencing with several clients, including the Benn girl. They were prepared, at the DA’s urgings, to read victim’s statements into the record as allowed by state law during sentencing hearings, Allred said Monday.
Le’s conduct warranted a stiffer prison term, Allred said.
“I read the victim impact statement for one of the victims whom we represent,” she said in an email.
“Le had been charged with a crime against him. The victim’s father also read a statement about the horrific way that Mr. Le treated his son in the classroom. The Judge said he had not known anything about that but he did not change his sentence,” Allred said.
The Benn teenager wanted to read her statement, Allred said, but when the proceeding dragged on she had to leave for a school activity.
“She wanted me to read it for her, but the judge would not allow it because she was not a victim of a crime to which Le had entered a plea,” Allred said.
One misdemeanour charge filed against Le was dismissed before sentencing. It was unclear at press time when that happened or if the charge involved the Benn girl.
Le’s attorney, Sam Polverino of San Jose, could not be reached for comment.

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