Ed. Note: On October 23, 2015, prosecutors dropped charges against Robert Noel Anderson and the case was dismissed.
An incident during Dehesa Elementary's Pajama Day was the first time officials learned of allegations against a former teacher now accused of child molestation, the former school superintendent told NBC 7 in an exclusive intervierw.
Robert Noel Anderson, 58, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Allied Gardens on allegations he molested five children dating back to 2003, officials said.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Jan Caldwell told NBC 7 there were eight alleged incidents involving five minors. Most of the alleged victims are now adults, Caldwell said.
Retired Dehesa Superintendent Barbara P. Rohrer was first alerted of a possible problem regarding the highly-respected teacher in the 2004-2005 school year.
After Dehesa Elementary's Pajama Day, a female student in the sixth grade lodged a complaint.
“That’s when this young lady told her parents that something had occurred,” Rohrer said without going into details of what happened.
Rohrer said the staff and administration all met and discussed the allegation.
“We all tried to figure out what was real,” Rohrer said. “Mr. Anderson did not admit to doing anything inappropriate and we could not prove that he did.”
She added that other students who were present could not validate what was alleged.
Even so, Rohrer said the unproven allegations were a good part of the reason she decided to transfer Anderson to the fourth grade for the following school year.
“Young ladies in the sixth grade versus young ladies in the fourth grade are kind of different,” she explained. “So I thought the fourth grade would be a healthy environment for him.”
She described Anderson as friendly, competent and highly-respected by students, parents and other teachers.
Then in May 2006, there was another incident involving a child in the fourth grade.
After that, Rohrer said Anderson was put on administrative leave.
“I was willing to accept the fact there could be a problem but I couldn’t prove anything here so i didn’t have a basis for dismissing him at that point in time,” she said.
Rohrer was superintendent from 2001 to 2006 and does not recall any incidents occurring in 2003.
She said after the Pajama Day incident, the school did contact the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
However, detectives told NBC 7 they could not make a case because of lack of evidence.
"We investigated this all along but it did not always meet the threshold when we worked with the district attorney's office," explained San Diego County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Jan Caldwell.
"We didn't close these cases down. We forged ahead and worked them until it culminated in this morning's arrest."
Anderson was booked into the San Diego County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday, September 15 in El Cajon.
In a letter sent home to parents late Thursday afternoon, the superintendent wrote that none of the children currently enrolled had any contact with Anderson in the classroom.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Child Abuse Unit at (858) 974-2310/after hours at (858) 565-5200 or you may Call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.