Fifth-grade teacher sentenced for molesting students

A former Morgan Hill teacher who sexually abused four children was sentenced Monday to 40 years in prison, an attorney said.

John Arthur Loyd, 53, of Hollister, was sentenced today in Santa Clara County Superior Court in Morgan Hill on four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under age 14.

Loyd sexually assaulted four girls, one at Nordstrom Elementary School in 2005 and three others at Paradise Valley Elementary School between 2012 and 2014, according to attorney Robert Allard, who is jointly representing three of the victims with attorney Lauren Cerri.

Both schools are part of the Morgan Hill Unified School District.

Loyd had pleaded no contest to the four charges on Aug. 3, according to prosecutors.

All the children were in fifth grade at the time of the crimes and the assaults occurred on campus, Allard said.

Loyd was originally facing eight charges and could have faced a life sentence in prison, said Mike Leininger, a former San Jose police sergeant specializing in childhood sexual abuse.

Leininger was hired by Allard’s firm to supplement their investigation into Loyd.

Loyd was arrested last October after one of the three girls at Paradise Valley told a substitute teacher of the crime and school administrators in turn notified police, according to Leininger.

Loyd would isolate the victims, who were part of the school’s newspaper, in a locked classroom that was a “dungeonesque environment” where windows were covered with paper during recess or lunch, according to Allard.

The ruse was similar to the actions seen in the case of Craig Chandler, a former teacher at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in San Jose, Allard said.

Chandler was convicted of molesting five young girls at the school between 2010 and 2012, according to prosecutors.

Parents’ complaints about Loyd were made to three different school principals, but never made it to his personnel file with the district, according to Allard.

The complaints included one in 2009 accusing Loyd of giving candy to girls under desks and another in 2010 claiming Loyd traded candy for hugs, Allard said.

In 2013, Loyd was criticized for “giving preferential treatment to girls,” he said.

Allard said:

“Loyd’s behavior raised suspicions and police were never notified.”

Separate lawsuits will be filed against the district by Allard’s firm, which is also seeking state legislation that would require sex abuse prevention training on an annual basis for school employees to look for “grooming behavior,” for parents to be informed of how they can report such behavior and for school districts to be the centralized holder of the complaints, Allard said:

“Our schools need to be proactive, learning how to recognize the warning signs of predatory behavior so that molestations can be prevented in the first instance.”

In a statement Mark Davis, an attorney representing the Morgan Hill Unified School District, said:

“The District has not yet been served with any lawsuit, but if and when the lawsuits are filed they will be reviewed by counsel and a responsive pleading will be filed on behalf of the District.”

No school district employees knew of the Loyd’s “abusive conduct” before his arrest, Davis said:

“Contrary to prior allegations, this was not a situation in which the District knew of child abuse and thereafter allowed the abuse to occur. School employees are trained in mandatory reporting requirements and the District is confident that if any employee had known or suspected that Mr. Loyd was engaged in child abuse, they would have reported this to the authorities.”

Since his arrest last October, Loyd has been held at the county’s Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas without bail.

Loyd last taught fifth grade at Paradise Valley Elementary from 2008 to his arrest and before that was a teacher at Nordstrom Elementary School from 2000 to 2007, police said.

He was a substitute teacher in 1999 and 2000 at several elementary schools in the Hollister School District in San Benito County including Calaveras, Ladd Lane (formerly Fremont), Gabilan Hills, Rancho San Justo, R.O. Hardin and Sunnyslope, as well as at San Benito High School, police said.

He was director of the Nordstrom Child Development Center in Morgan Hill from 1992 to 1995, according to police.

His resume also states he was a youth leader and camp director at the East Valley Family YMCA and South Valley Family YMCA, both in San Jose, from the mid-1980s to early 1990s, according to police.