Palo Alto Elementary Teacher Arrested, Accused of Sexually Abusing Girl - NBC Bay Area
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Palo Alto Elementary Teacher Arrested, Accused of Sexually Abusing Girl

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    A Palo Alto elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing a girl more than 10 years ago was arrested earlier this week and placed on unpaid leave, police and school district officials said Friday. Peggy Bunker reports. (Published Friday, Jan. 15, 2016)

    A Palo Alto elementary school teacher accused of sexually abusing a girl more than 10 years ago was arrested earlier this week and placed on unpaid leave, police and school district officials said Friday.

    Michael Christopher Airo, 34, of San Mateo, turned himself in Wednesday evening to the Santa Clara County Main Jail, where he was booked and quickly posted $500,000 bail, police said.

    The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has charged him with one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14, which are all felonies, police said.

    Airo taught fourth and fifth grade students at Ohlone Elementary School, Palo Alto Unified School District spokesman Jorge Quintana said.

    A judge issued an arrest warrant on Jan. 6 against Airo for the alleged sexual abuse of the daughter of a former live-in girlfriend from 2002 to 2005, while the girl was 11 to 13 years old, according to police.

    Police were first notified of the alleged abuse in May 2014, when a psychologist sent a report of child abuse involving the victim, who is now in her 20s, police said.

    Airo was an aide for an after-school program at El Carmelo Elementary School, where he met the victim's mother in 1999 when the girl was 8 years old, according to police.

    The program was run by a private center and took place on district property, Quintana said.

    Over time, Airo and the mother dated and he moved into their Palo Alto home, where the alleged abuse happened, police said.

    Airo was hired by the district in 2008 and was placed on unpaid leave on Thursday when officials learned of the charges, Quintana said.

    District officials have plans on moving forward with the process to fire him, Quintana said.

    The district has provided additional counselors and psychologists today at Ohlone Elementary to offer support for students, faculty and staff, according to Quintana.

    District Superintendent Glenn "Max" McGee was also on campus today to speak with parents, according to Quintana.

    "Needless to say it's been a difficult day. This is information that is hard to hear and hard to understand," Quintana said.

    Detectives looked into Airo's work history and determined there were no other victims, according to police.

    Anyone who has information on additional victims is asked to call police at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can also be made online at paloalto@tipnow.org or by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

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