SAN DIEGO — A South Bay elementary school teacher accused of carrying on a four-year sexual relationship with her underage godson, who was also one of her students, pleaded not guilty Friday to felony child molestation charges.
Carmina Erica Lopez, 32, surrendered to detectives at her Mission Hills home on Wednesday evening, said Chula Vista police spokesman Bernard Gonzales. Lopez sat sideways in her seat and spoke softly during her arraignment in the courtroom of Judge H. Ronald Domnitz, who ordered her held on $2 million bail.
Lopez — who has a 4-year-old son — is charged with eight counts of committing a lewd act on a child, but more charges could be coming, said Deputy District Attorney Leonard Trinh. As it stands now, the defendant faces 19 years and four months in prison if convicted. The prosecutor alleged that Lopez put her hand on the boy’s private parts in the back of her car and did the same thing in her classroom. Lopez is also accused of having sexual intercourse with the boy in her home, Trinh told the judge. The alleged crimes began when the boy was 11 and Lopez was a sixth-grade teacher at Nestor Elementary School in Chula Vista, authorities said.
The defendant had since begun teaching at Sunnyslope Elementary in the Palm City district of San Diego. She has been placed on leave pending resolution of the charges against her. County Child Protective Services officials told police of the now-15-year-old’s allegation that Lopez had repeatedly forced him to have sex with her, starting in 2004 and continuing until last June. Trinh said he met with the alleged victim on Thursday, but wouldn’t comment on how the boy was doing. “We wish him the best in dealing with this,” the prosecutor told reporters. “I don’t know how he feels.”
Domnitz had scheduled a readiness conference for Feb. 11 and a preliminary hearing for last Feb. 18.