A Sacramento special education teacher was arraigned Wednesday on six counts of lewd acts with a 7-year-old boy and one count of communicating with a 14-year-old boy with the intent to commit a sexual offense.
Preston Howard Lewis, 50, was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 3 from Sacramento City Unified School District, where he has been employed as a teacher since 2003.
Lewis has been a special education teacher since 2006 at Sam Brannan Middle School near Riverside Boulevard and South Land Park Drive. He previously taught from 2003 to 2006 at Fern Bacon Middle School in south Sacramento.
The alleged abuse of the 7-year-old occurred between 2004 and 2005, according to the criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney's Office. Preston is accused of communicating with the 14-year-old between March 1 and Sept. 1 of last year.
Lewis declined a jailhouse interview with The Bee. He briefly appeared in court Wednesday but did not enter a plea.
Sacramento Police Sgt. Norm Leong said the department was notified by the school district of concerns that one of its employees "may have engaged in inappropriate conduct with a juvenile."
"Based on the investigation, police believe Lewis committed sexual acts or had sexual conversations with the victims," Leong said. "In one case, Lewis provided a cell phone and computer to a victim, which were used to facilitate sexual conversations."
The criminal complaint references a photograph that Lewis allegedly took of the 7-year-old boy in a sex act with Lewis.
Leong and Sacramento City Unified officials would not comment on whether the victims were students. The school district notified parents at Sam Brannan Middle School about 2 p.m. Wednesday through an automated phone message system.
Parent Phyllis Mark had not yet heard of the allegations when she returned home at 3 p.m. from picking up her son, an eighth-grader at Sam Brannan. Mark said she is disappointed that the district didn't let parents know much sooner, especially given that the age of the teen victim is similar to the ages of middle school students.
"This is really close to home," Mark said.
District spokesman Gabe Ross said Sacramento City Unified has been working with police to make sure "we have as much information as possible."
"Should these allegations prove true, we'll be exploring every possible option under the law to make sure justice is served," Ross said.
Lewis is scheduled to return to court next Wednesday.