A judge on Tuesday ordered former principal Robert B. Adams to face trial on charges that he methodically and routinely molested young girls at his private school in Citrus Heights dating back to 1996.
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick noted that questions were raised by defense attorney Linda Parisi about the credibility of some of Adams' accusers.
But he found that the evidence provided by law enforcement officers and prosecutor Kevin Jones over a four-day preliminary hearing was enough to order a trial.
"There are certainly levels of credibility that will have to be resolved," McCormick said. "But, with the level of proof that is required in a hearing such as this one, I'm satisfied there is sufficient cause to hold the defendant to answer to each of the charges."
Adams, 61, told the judge he "absolutely" planned to retain Parisi as his lawyer and will plead not guilty to all the charges six felonies and one misdemeanor. He was ordered to return to court April 4.
Parisi said afterward that she was disappointed but not surprised.
"I think it is clear that there are more questions than answers as a result of this hearing," Parisi said.
The bulk of the evidence presented against Adams, who had run his K-6 Creative Frontiers School for decades before authorities shut it down in the summer of 2011, came from police officers recounting interviews they had with alleged victims about their encounters with "Mr. Bob."
Citrus Heights Police Detective Nicole Garing on Tuesday recounted a conversation she had with a former teacher at the school.
Garing testified that as part of the 2011 investigation that led to the charges she interviewed former teacher Bethany Solomon, who indicated she had taken a girl between 2 and 3 years old to Adams' office for a skinned knee.
During the incident, which allegedly occurred several years earlier, Solomon saw Adams start rubbing the girl's knee. Then he moved his hand up further under the girl's skirt until only his little finger was visible, Garing said Solomon told her.
The teacher became "extremely uncomfortable," Garing said, and grabbed the girl, saying, "You're good, let's go."
Parisi noted that the teacher who is required under state law to report any inappropriate behavior with children never confronted Adams or reported the incident at the time.
Earlier Tuesday, Citrus Heights Police Detective William Sanderson concluded his testimony about interviews he did last month with two alleged victims. Both are 21-year-old women who were about 8 at the time of a 2000 investigation into claims that Adams had molested them. That 2000 case did not result in charges, but the allegations are included in the current case.
Sanderson said one of the women told him that Adams used to put her on his lap in his office and place his hand under her shirt and rub her chest.
"She couldn't get away from him," Sanderson said of the girl, who was 6 or 7 and in the second grade. "She also stated she had to force her way away from him."
The alleged victim said it happened every time she went to the office and that Adams would talk to her as he molested her.
"He said that she was a good girl and that the school was lucky to have her," Sanderson said.
Parisi brought up a series of inconsistencies from both alleged victims' claims, noting that one of the women, as a girl in 2000, used a drawing of a naked girl to diagram where she was touched.
Parisi said the girl drew a circle around the area under her neck and around her stomach, not around her breast area.
Jones said in his closing argument that "it is clear that inappropriate criminal touching occurred and his intent was of a sexual nature." He described one victim as seeing two "Mr. Bobs" on campus one the jovial, outgoing man who hugged students, the other who made her feel "weird" with his inappropriate contact.
Jones also noted the discovery during a search of the Adams home in Folsom of a photograph of a young girl's clothed crotch, saying that keeping that was "indicative of a prurient interest."
Parisi tried to dismiss it as simply a photo that didn't turn out, but the judge interrupted.
"That is a peculiar photo to have in one's closet," McCormick said.
Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.