Albany Teachers Hold Vigil For Teacher Facing Molest Charge Who Committed Suicide

The short ceremony was held for James Izumizaki, or "Mr. I," a sixth grade teacher and sports coach.

A small crowd of Albany teachers held a Tuesday morning vigil for a popular teacher who committed suicide after he was arrested last week on a child molest charge.

They placed flowers and letters in front of the school, and one teacher read a short statement saying how sorry the school community was for James' Izumizaki's remaining family members. Then they were mostly silent, some wept.

The short ceremony was held for Izumizaki, or "Mr. I," a sixth grade teacher and sports coach at Albany Middle School whom police had arrested Sept. 26  following an investigation into reports that he had an appropriate relationship with a student. He was released a day later on $100,000 bail. Prosecutors had not charged him as the investigation was ongoing.

On Monday night, Alameda County Sheriff's deputies said they found him dead in his car in San Lorenzo, and that it appeared as though he had killed himself. Sgt. J.D. Nelson said that Izumizaki had left a note, but that what it said was part of the coroner's investigation.

A few parents told NBC Bay Area that they felt he would have been proven innocent but that he succumbed to the pressure of the allegations against him. They wished the accusations hadn't been made so public.

Lori Endo said Izumizaki had been important to her son, and then she broke down into tears. Kathy Meyer said the whole thing was probably just a "big misunderstanding" that it "got out of hand."

School leaders had called the allegations against him shocking, saying he was a popular and highly respected teacher. He was also the school's volleyball and basketball coach.

Counselors were brought in to help grieving students on Tuesday and school was scheduled to let out early.

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