Judge denies mental health diversion for La Jolla teacher accused of having sex with student
by NEAL PUTNAM
Published - 04/30/19 - 09:10 AM | 4782 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Blue tinted monotone image of a gavel and scales of justice
Blue tinted monotone image of a gavel and scales of justice
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A judge has denied a mental health diversion for a former teacher at La Jolla Country Day School, who is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old student.

Attorney Eugene Iredale presented testimony of several doctors familiar with the 2015 bicycle accident that Jonathan Sammartino had in which he suffered head injuries a year before he allegedly had sex with a female student.

Sammartino, 35, a teacher now on leave from a private school in San Jose, suffered head injuries in three places while he was on his bicycle on March 21, 2015, and fell after he struck a pothole on Torrey Pines Road, according to court records. Sammartino filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego, and the San Diego Reader published a story about it.

Several neurologists performed MRI and other brain scans of Sammartino, and told San Diego Superior Court Judge Charles Rogers about the brain injuries, tests, and diagnosis. More than 20 people wrote letters to Rogers saying the accident changed Sammartino, who taught at La Jolla Country Day School from 2012 to 2016.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a state Senate bill in 2018 that allowed some defendants to claim a mental health diversion in which their case would end without a conviction instead of facing a trial. However, the law precluded some offenses, such as murder and rape, from mental health diversion.

Deputy District Attorneys Martin Doyle and David Greenberg argued against Sammartino benefitting from mental health diversion, saying a crime that could cause one to become a registered sex offender is precluded. 

The prosecutors also argued there was no such law on the books when Sammartino allegedly had sex with the student in 2016.

Testimony started on April 5 and Sammartino's mother, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino, was among the witnesses. The hearing ended on April 22 when Rogers denied the motion.

Rogers ruled he did not have the jurisdiction to grant mental health diversion as the charged offenses preclude such a finding.

Instead, Rogers set a preliminary hearing for June 13. Sammartino is charged with unlawful intercourse with a minor, oral copulation and digital penetration of a minor. It is estimated the hearing will take two days.

An arrest warrant declaration says the girl, a senior, had sex with Sammartino in the back seat of his car. Sammartino was 33 years old and was married at the time. He has a doctorate in experimental psychology.

The girl reported the allegations to campus police on July 17, 2018, and San Diego Police investigated it.  Sammartino was arrested Sept. 11, 2018.

Sammartino has denied all the allegations in his not guilty plea. He remains free on $25,000 bond.

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