Crime - Sacto 911

Former Elk Grove teacher convicted of sex with teen student, molestation of 2 others

Cosumnes Oaks High School
Cosumnes Oaks High School Elk Grove Unified School District

A former geography teacher and coach at Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove was found guilty of nine counts of sex acts with a 15-year-old student and molesting two other teenage girls Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Monte Antonio Reed faces more than nine years in prison for his crimes.

Reed, 42, was tried on a slate of charges including unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation, lewd acts with a minor and penetration with a foreign object connected to conduct that began at the end of his first victim’s freshman year in 2016. The sex acts happened in Reed’s Cosumnes Oaks classroom in the Elk Grove Unified School District after school and while school was in session during his prep period.

Jurors needed a day after a two-week trial to return guilty verdicts on all nine counts Thursday afternoon. Reed was taken into Sacramento County custody with the verdict and returns for sentencing Sept. 20 before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Trena Burger-Plavan.

The students “will live with the scars for the rest of their lives,” said attorney Roger Dreyer, who represented the victims who testified in the Reed case.

“This verdict, while certainly appropriate and important, it ignores the bigger issue: Why does it happen? The evidence was there. The information was there for the administration to be put on notice of Reed’s conduct,” Dreyer said Friday. “It underscores the failure of the district to prevent it from happening – to see it, prevent it and discourage Reed’s conduct,” Dreyer continued. “The district and others like this rely on students to report rather that the adults doing their statutory duty.”

Reed’s case was one in a string of criminal arrests, convictions and sentencings of Elk Grove Unified employees or volunteers since 2015 connected to inappropriate conduct or sexual acts against children in the area’s largest school district. Other Elk Grove Unified cases continue to wend through Sacramento Superior Court.

Sacramento County District Attorney’s prosecutors said the geography teacher exchanged sexually graphic texts with the teenage student, asked her to send videos and photos, and later discussed how to meet for sex.

Reed was found out in April 2017 after the girl told her friends, who then told a teacher. For months, Reed was on administrative leave while he was the subject of a district investigation into the child sex acts. He was arrested in September 2017 and charged with five felony counts.

More charges would follow. Two other girls reported Reed touched each of them sexually while they were Cosumnes Oaks students in 2016 and 2017.

One said Reed once told her he would “like to get in trouble” with her and, during a prep period, fondled her thigh. Reed pulled another girl in for a kiss during another prep period and called yet another girl his “forbidden fruit,” prosecutors argued in court documents.

Even before the Reed verdict, Elk Grove Unified School District had paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil judgments tied to the misconduct and faces more lawsuits – including one from Reed’s victims.

In March, Sacramento jurors awarded more than $1 million to the families of three Elk Grove Unified School District elementary school students who were molested by campus volunteer Eric Ernest Echols.

Echols is serving an 11-year prison sentence for sexually abusing six students ages 7-8 while a volunteer reading aide at Prairie Elementary School between July 2015 and June 2016. He pleaded no contest to the charges in October 2017.

Attorney Dreyer is preparing for a scheduled Sacramento Superior Court trial in early 2020 seeking civil damages against Elk Grove Unified for allegedly failing to protect the Cosumnes Oaks girls from Reed.

Elk Grove Unified officials insist they are doing more to keep the district’s 63,000 students safe from sexual predators and misconduct, saying in a statement that “one act of sexual misconduct is too many.”

District spokeswoman Xanthi Pinkerton said Friday that Elk Grove Unified is reviewing district policy, practices and procedures.

District officials are also training all employees how to identify grooming behavior as part of schools’ mandated reporter training “to make sure student safety is our top priority,” Pinkerton said.

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.