In a carefully planned appearance, former school principal Robert B. Adams returned to court Friday for a brief hearing on the sexual molestation charges he faces.
The Sacramento Superior Court hearing itself amounted to nothing it lasted about a minute and consisted of an agreement to push the next hearing back to Nov. 4 but about a dozen of Adams' supporters turned out in a show of solidarity with the 60-year-old suspect.
"There is tremendous support for Mr. Adams from the school and from the community," his attorney, Linda Parisi, said outside the Sacramento County jail, where the court hearing was held. "I think that clearly is a reflection of what an important part of the community the school was."
Parisi was flanked by Adams, his wife and daughters, and supporters of the school, which he operated in Citrus Heights for 30 years before authorities shut it down this summer amid the sexual abuse investigation.
Most of the supporters who turned out Friday wore red as part of their effort, including some wearing T-shirts with the name of the school Creative Frontiers emblazoned on them.
Adams, who has denied wrongdoing, faces six felony charges of lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14 and a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child under 18.
Authorities allege that he molested students at his school, but the case has created a deep divide between parents of children who have attended Creative Frontiers, one that is playing out in heated online forums.
"Your family is strong, your attorneys are great, your supporters are many and the public is not stupid you WILL beat these false allegations," one supporter wrote in a message posted on the Creative Frontiers Facebook page before Friday's hearing.
Such sentiments are common on the page, where Adams supporters have denounced the case as false allegations and hysteria and have blasted media coverage of the investigation.
Amid those claims, a rival blog has emerged online that frames the case in more critical terms. Items posted on that site called "Doubting Creative Frontiers" include stories about teachers elsewhere found to be molesters, as well as critiques of school supporters' faith in Adams.
"He is INNOCENT ... or is he?" reads one recent headline on the site, which posted word of Friday's hearing postponement within minutes of its occurrence. "Freak show," read another recent headline.
Some of the debate on the sites focuses on parent complaints that they have not been reimbursed for tuition paid to the private school for classes that were canceled after it was closed.
Adams, who was sued last month in a claim for negligence, sexual battery and other allegations by a former student, intends to repay parents for tuition lost, Parisi said. But the family has not been able to obtain records from computers that were seized by detectives.
"We have not received the records back from law enforcement, but certainly the family intends to honor all their obligations," she said.
Meanwhile, the case is likely to play out slowly in court as Adams fights the allegations.
"We are still awaiting all of the discovery and police reports and as soon as we get those, we'll be able to move forward," Parisi said.