Former Creative Frontiers principal Robert Adams, right, is facing allegations of molesting students.

Officer: Citrus Heights principal gave conflicting stories after molestation arrest

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2013 - 10:35 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Lawyers in the molestation case against former Citrus Heights principal Robert Adams sparred Monday over his statements to police and whether they amounted to an admission that he touched young girls inappropriately.

Citrus Heights Police Officer Joe Rangel concluded his third day of testimony in Sacramento Superior Court by recalling that Adams said he was "scared to death" in the summer of 2011 when he was being arrested after the closure of his private Creative Frontiers School.

Rangel indicated that Adams gave conflicting stories as he interviewed the 61-year-old about allegations from students that he had touched them inappropriately.

"I did not touch her or anybody," Rangel said Adams claimed when he asked about one alleged victim.

But Rangel added that Adams also gave other responses as he interviewed him.

Under questioning from prosecutor Kevin Jones, the officer said he asked Adams twice whether the accusers were all lying. Adams paused both times and did not answer, Rangel said.

He also asked about a 4-year-old girl's claim that "Mr. Bob touched my pee-pee" and said Adams responded, "Yeah."

Rangel also said he asked Adams if the touching of girls could have been an accident.

"Obviously, no, it wasn't an accident if we are here," Rangel quoted Adams as saying. "Obviously not."

But defense attorney Linda Parisi painted a different picture, noting that Adams, who was treated for chest pains the day of his arrest, had complained during the interview of feeling ill and dizzy.

She noted that her client had categorically denied any inappropriate behavior and had himself authored the school touching policy on how to properly interact with children.

She also noted that the school had cameras throughout most areas – which Adams had installed after facing a 1999 complaint about touching girls – and that video recordings seized by police did not show any inappropriate acts.

Judge Kevin J. McCormick ordered the hearing to resume this morning. He must decide whether there is enough evidence to order Adams to stand trial.

Citrus Heights detective William Sanderson is expected to continue testimony today. He took the stand for a brief period Monday and described interviewing two alleged victims just last month.

Sanderson said he conducted the interviews via Skype video conferences with two young women who were girls when their allegations were first investigated in 2000.

Charges were not filed at the time, but the two are included in the six felony molestation charges and one misdemeanor count Adams now faces.

Sanderson said one interview was with a woman who is 21 now and was 8 at the time of the 2000 investigation. That probe involved allegations that Adams had molested her and one other girl around that time, and Sanderson said he played a video recording for her of the interview she gave authorities when she was 8.

The woman said in 2000 that she believed she had been molested 20 to 25 times, but told Sanderson last month that she now estimates it happened at least 10 times.

The woman, identified only by her initials, "told me that Mr. Bob would grab her and put her on his lap and would not let her go," Sanderson testified. "He would call her Barbie."

Adams would reach up under her shirt and feel her chest area, Sanderson said, adding that the woman said it "felt like a spider going up her shirt."

The allegations against Adams involve students dating from the late 1990s to 2011, when the state Department of Social Services shut the school down. Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091. Follow him on Twitter @stantonsam.

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