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  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Robert Adams glances toward his attorney, Linda Parisi, during his preliminary hearing Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court. Adams, former owner and principal of Creative Frontiers School in Citrus Heights, faces child molestation charges.

  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Adams talks with members of his family during a recess in his preliminary hearing. He allegedly molested young schoolgirls as far back as 1996.

  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. William Bayless looks through his reports on the case during defense questioning.

  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Robert Adams confers with defense attorney Linda Parisi, left, and family members during a recess. A Citrus Heights police officer testified Thursday that he found scant evidence in 2011 that earlier student molestation claims had ever been investigated by the authorities.

  • Manny Crisostomo / mcrisostomo@sacbee.com

    Defense attorney Parisi tells reporters that it's notable that no charges were filed when the case was first investigated.

More Information

'I want to kill him,' alleged victim said of school principal charged with child molestation

Published: Friday, Mar. 1, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

The first sign of trouble at Creative Frontiers School came in June 2000, when a concerned parent called law enforcement with allegations that her daughter had been touched inappropriately.

"I want to kill him," the young girl told her mother at the time. "I just want to stab him. I want to make him go away."

Another report on the Citrus Heights school came in six years later, then another in 2007 and yet another in 2010.

But it wasn't until 2011, after one more allegation was leveled against Robert B. Adams, that authorities decided they had enough evidence to file charges against the school's former owner and principal.

On Thursday, 16 months after authorities charged Adams with child molestation, the first public details of the evidence began to trickle out in Sacramento Superior Court.

Three law enforcement officers testified in the opening phase of a preliminary hearing before Judge Kevin J. McCormick, who must decide whether there is enough evidence to order Adams to face trial on six felony counts of child molestation and one misdemeanor count of annoying or molesting a child.

It wasn't a particularly pretty day for either side.

The 61-year-old Adams, who sat at the defense table with attorney Linda Parisi and his wife seated behind him in a courtroom half-filled with supporters and family, listened as officers recounted allegations that he had molested young girls at his school dating back as far as 1996.

But he also heard testimony from a Citrus Heights police officer who said that when he began to look into the allegations in 2011, he found little evidence that earlier claims had ever been investigated.

Officer Joe Rangel said his probe began on June 17, 2011, when he met with the parents of a 4-year-old girl who was a student at the privately run school.

The girl had told the couple that a few days earlier during nap time, Adams – a popular fixture at the campus who was known to his students as "Mr. Bob" – was rubbing her stomach and then touched her vaginal area, Rangel testified.

That claim – that "Mr. Bob touched my pee-pee" – launched the probe that shut the school down for good and created national headlines.

Rangel said he began to investigate the case and found there had been several past allegations involving Adams touching young girls at the school, but he added that there appeared to be no follow-up from the initial reports on most of them.

Rangel began looking into the allegations, meeting with a 21-year-old woman whose case had first been reported to authorities in 2006.

That woman had been a 5- or 6-year-old student at the K-6 Creative Frontiers school in about 1996 and had not raised concerns about Adams until much later.

When she was 13 or 14, Rangel testified, the girl told her mother at a Mel's Diner outing in Roseville that she had been touched under her shirt by Adams.

No report went to police at the time, but a couple of years later the girl, then at Rocklin High School, confided to a counselor that she had been touched by Adams years earlier.

The 10-year-old memory stemmed from a presentation by a fellow student on Creative Frontiers, the girl told her counselor.

The counselor called Citrus Heights police, and Officer David Jones testified that he took the report and interviewed the girl's mother, who was skeptical about the story.

Jones said he tried to reach Adams and sent the case over to detectives for follow-up.

Rangel, under questioning from prosecutor Kevin Jones, said he later found no evidence that the case went any further.

He contacted the woman, who said she had never spoken to police before, and recounted her allegations to him.

Rangel also looked into a report of suspected child abuse filed in 2010, but discovered that the woman who reported it had since died of a gunshot wound to the head.

The name of the child suspected of being abused was not listed in any documents, Rangel said.

He also looked into a 2007 report but could not find any follow-up on that one, either.

The most extensive investigation before Adams was charged in 2011 came from a June 2000 case responded to by Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. William Bayless.

Bayless said he was called to the home of a woman whose daughter – a former student – had indicated that Adams had touched her and some others while at the school.

The girl's recollection came after her mother happened to show her an advertisement for Creative Frontiers and led to the girl telling her mother that she "hated Mr. Bob" and wanted to kill him, Bayless testified.

She and another girl told similar stories and the case was submitted for prosecution but no charges were filed at the time.

Those two girls are among the alleged victims in the current case, and Parisi said she believes it is important to note that no charges were filed when the case was first investigated.

"I think that it is significant that there was a determination that was unfounded and it went through several hands to get to that determination," she said after court Thursday.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Sam Stanton



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