A Crawford High School teacher accused of engaging in an ongoing consensual sexual relationship with a student is facing 11 felony counts, prosecutors said Monday.
Toni Sutton, a 37-year-old female Spanish teacher and volleyball coach, appeared in court for the first time Monday, where she faced multiple charges, including lewd act on a child aged 14 or 15, unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation and sodomy. Sutton is represented by defense attorney Kerry Armstrong, who pleaded not guilty on her behalf.
Prosecutors with the San Diego County District Attorney's office said Sutton had sexual relations with the 16-year-old in various places, including her car, her home and her classroom.
Armstrong said Sutton, who is very religious and goes to church every Sunday, was so upset she cried on the way out of the courtroom.
“She’s heartbroken…She’s the nicest, sweetest lady you’d ever meet in your life," he said.
The relationship began in summer 2015 when the student was a sophomore and continued until January, when it came to light through a series of text messages, prosecutors said Monday.
San Diego Police (SDPD) detectives made the arrest Thursday after a parent contacted them about her son's relationship with an adult family friend. The parent had discovered inappropriate communication between the woman and the boy. The teen was one of her students from a previous year.
The evidence reflects a consensual relationship, both the defense and prosecution said. Sutton was ordered to stay away from the minor.
The district has placed Sutton on paid administrative leave, pending the investigation's outcome. Sutton has been a teacher for 11 years. The district said no other teachers are involved in the investigation.
Ben, the teacher's boyfriend of six years, said the couple lives with his two children in the home they share just five minutes from the school.
She was taken into custody on $100,000 bail at her arraignment.
Sutton will next appear in court on Feb. 11 for a bail review and Feb. 22 for a readiness.