Ed. Note: On October 23, 2015, prosecutors dropped charges against Robert Noel Anderson and the case was dismissed.
The former teacher accused of molesting female students has pleaded not guilty to allegations against him.
Robert Noel Anderson, 58, made his first San Diego County court appearance Friday, where he was arraigned on eight counts of child molestation. A judge held his bail at $800,000, despite arguments from his attorney that he has lived in San Diego County and did not flee when the accusations first surfaced.
Prosecutors say between 2003 and 2006, Anderson molested five former students in eight incidents at Dehesa Elementary School while working there as a fourth and sixth grade teacher.
All alleged victims -- who are now adults -- claim he touched them on their genitals. To some girls, it happened once, but others were victimized multiple times, according to Deputy District Attorney Chantal DeMauregne.
The latest accusation is from 2006, but the girl -- now an adult -- came forward with the allegations just 13 months ago. Her testimony prompted the San Diego County Sheriff's detectives to reinvestigate Anderson.
"Throughout the years there's been more information, recently more information, and more investigation came about which allowed us to file charges at this time," said DeMauregne.
Retired Dehesa Superintendent Barbara P. Rohrer said the suspected problem was first reported to her toward the end of the 2004-2005 school year, after the elementary school’s Pajama Day.
A girl in the sixth grade class told her parents something had happened with the married teacher, but school officials were unable to prove it, Rohrer said.
The next year, the superintendent assigned Anderson, a popular teacher among students, to the fourth grade, thinking it "would be a healthy environment for him,” she said.
However, in May 2006, a child in the fourth grade reported another incident. It prompted school officials to put Anderson on administrative leave.
Under his lawyer Kerry Armstrong’s advice, Anderson agreed to stop teaching, though he denies all the claims.
"He's been adamant from day one. He says, 'Look I taught those kids.' He remembers their names after all these years. He says, 'Look I would never touch a child. I'd never touch a child inside my classroom or anywhere else,'" said Armstrong.
The attorney said he feels so strongly about his client's innocence that he allowed Anderson to talk with detectives during their initial investigation -- something he rarely advises clients to do.
According to Rohrer, the school contacted the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department after the first incident, but detectives had a hard time building a case against the accused teacher.
Anderson was paid by the school district through 2007, according to a San Diego County Schools’ Music Watson. In 2010, his CalPERS retirement benefits kicked in.
Watson said Anderson did not work in any capacity in Dehesa or another school district after 2007. His attorney says since that time, he has been working as a proctor and test administrator for professionals trying to pass board certifications.
The suspect will be back in court on Oct. 1. If convicted, he could face up to 22 years in prison.