OAKLAND — A high school psychology and economics teacher has been arrested and charged with molesting a then-14-year-old girl throughout her freshman year, in 2004, an alleged crime that authorities say was only discovered last year, court records show.
Jeremy Craig Taylor, 46, was charged with committing a lewd act upon a child 14 years or younger, along with enhancements alleging “substantial sexual contact,” as well as selecting a vulnerable victim and being in a position of trust. Taylor has pleaded not guilty and is out on $50,000 bail, according to prosecutors.
Taylor worked at the Oakland School of the Arts — a nonprofit charter school — as a math teacher at the time, and the victim was his student, police say.
Though the allegations only recently surfaced, Taylor was admonished in May for “counseling” girls in private meetings inside a basement classroom. An administrator noted at the time that it seemed odd Taylor had several students’ numbers on his personal cellphone, according to police. Still, Taylor remained employed at the school and still worked there in October 2021, when police opened the criminal investigation.
School officials did not return requests for comment, but this newspaper was provided a statement by a public affairs firm on the school’s behalf. The statement says Taylor was put on leave and ultimately terminated after an Oakland police investigator informed the school of the allegations last January.
“OSA hired a third-party investigative team. The results of the investigation triggered Mr. Taylor’s immediate termination, and the full report was shared with police investigators,” the statement says, later adding, “OSA looks forward to continued cooperation with the police.”
Public records say Taylor turned himself in to Berkeley police on May 27, apparently after learning he had an arrest warrant. He was charged July 11, court records show.
Prosecutors allege that Taylor molested the victim on an ongoing basis from September 2004 to September 2005, when Taylor was 29-30 years old. Police didn’t start investigating him until last year, when the alleged victim confided in a friend what had happened, and she called the Oakland police department.
In an interview with investigators, the alleged victim said she and Taylor “had sex approximately 10 times, both on school grounds and at Taylor’s apartment,” according to a police probable cause statement filed in court. Authorities also say that other former students of Taylor described him as “creepy” and “deeply disturbing,” saying he would flirt with students or offer them hugs. One said she saw the name of a student written in condensation inside Taylor’s vehicle.
In May 2004, an administrator told Taylor to stop counseling students in private meetings. Taylor responded with a memo stating he sought to give students a safe space to talk about family issues, eating disorders, self-harm behavior, and the like, according to police.
This warning was repeated in September 2005, after a student emailed Taylor seeking to meet with him for lunch and stating she missed him. Two weeks after that, the mother of another student — the same girl whose name was allegedly written in condensation on the window of Taylor’s car — pulled her out of his math class. When the girl apologized, Taylor allegedly responded that she and him could discuss it but he, “will insist, however, that it be in person,” followed by a smiley face emoji The following year, he emailed the same girl asking for pictures of her to “properly wallpaper (his) room,” according to police.
In January 2021 — nine months before the allegations became known — the Oakland School of the Arts featured Taylor in a newsletter that included an interview. It describes him as one of the longest-serving faculty members at the school, which opened in 2002. In the interview, he said it is the only school where he ever applied for a job.
“When I heard there was a new public arts school in Oakland (I applied during the school’s first year), I could suddenly imagine teaching high school … The idea of getting together a whole school of just arts students sounded like a great idea, and I wanted to be a part of it,” Taylor said.
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