The San Bernardino County Superior Court has made a finding of factual innocence in the case of former Chino Valley Unified School District teacher Roger Talley, whose heretofore successful career as an educator was cut short last year when he was accused of molesting one of his students at Walnut Avenue Elementary School.
The court has concluded there was no basis for that accusation.
The court’s ruling only partially diminishes the anguish and trauma Talley has weathered since February 9, 2012, when a sixth-grade student accused the fifth grade teacher of inappropriate touching. The district placed him on administrative leave at once and contacted the Chino Police Department. Detectives with that department, who did a cursory investigation of the matter and succeeded in having the student repeat the claim, arrested Talley on charges of lewd acts on a child.
Talley maintained his innocence but the matter devolved into a full-blown spectacle when parents of children attending the school began distributing photocopies of a newspaper report of his arrest.
In the meantime, the district attorney’s office reviewed the file on the Talley case prepared by the police department and undertook its own investigation, questioning the alleged victim, other students, teachers and parents. On February 27, 2012 deputy district attorney Jason Anderson concluded there were insufficient grounds to proceed against Talley in that there was “a lack of specificity” in the alleged victim’s description of what had occurred, that there was “no corroboration” of the alleged victim’s account and that any conceivable case lodged against Talley “could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
Nevertheless, with the atmosphere of rumor and accusation that persisted at Walnut Avenue Elementary and the hostility toward the school administration and Talley being voiced by some parents, the district resisted reinstating Talley and said that it was proceeding with its own investigation.
Though he had the backing of the Associated Chino Teachers, that organization limited to $20,000 the amount of money it would provide toward the legal effort to clear him and allow him to return to work. In April 2012, Talley acceded to resigning his teaching position. Tally, who began with the , in 2002 and was named Teacher of the Year at El Rancho Elementary School in 2004-05, has not worked as a school teacher since that time.
Talley retained attorney Marc Grossman, whose law firm filed a petition with the San Bernardino County Superior Court, seeking a review of the entire affair and a declaration of factual innocence
On July 5, the court entered a ruling of factual innocence relating to Talley.
More at San Bernardino Sentinel
A fifth grade teacher is “factually innocent” of inappropriately touching a student, a Superior Court judge has ruled, but the teacher remains unable to return to work in any public classroom.
In March 2012, the San Bernardino County District Attorney decided not to prosecute Roger Talley citing reasonable doubt and a lack of corroboration on the part of his accuser.
Now Talley is hoping to reclaim his career – and his life.
“I want people to know,” he said. “I didn’t do it.”
Serious damage has already been done to his career and reputation. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialling revoked his credentials, disqualifying him from working at any public school.
“If I go on the Internet and Google my name, I’m appalled,” said Talley.
Many websites failed to update stories about the initial accusations. On Monday, an image of Talley remained on the website Mugshot.com, labeled, “molester.”
Talley, 55, had been accused of inappropriately touching a sixth-grade student at Walnut Elementary School in Chino shortly after sexual allegations against two teachers at Miramonte Elementary School created a firestorm of suspicion.
“Everybody was like on this witch hunt,” Talley said. “Things that were benign – hugging, being affectionate – turned out to be totally inappropriate.”
Even after the DA found insufficient evidence to prosecute Talley, he agreed to leave the Chino Unified School District.
Talley decided not to wage a legal fight to keep his job, he said, after getting an estimate that attorneys’ fees would exceed $100,000, and coverage provided by his union would cover only $20,000.
But he could afford to hire an attorney to petition the Superior Court for a rare ruling that he was factually innocent, basically expunging any legal record that connected him the alleged crime.
“The remedy is to have the arrest and court records removed, and put them back at square one,” said Marc Grossman, Talley’s attorney.
Read More and watch the video report at NBC