MARTINEZ -- A Lafayette middle schoolteacher today pleaded not guilty to charges that he molested a 14-year-old girl during private tutoring sessions this past summer.

Michael Merrick, 47, of Lafayette, has been jailed on $3.05 million bail since he was charged last week with 17 felony sex crimes and one misdemeanor. His attorney, Elizabeth Grossman, said Merrick will offer a property bond for his release.

Grossman said she will reserve comment on the case until she fully reviews discovery provided by the prosecution.

Merrick, a wood shop teacher and coach, was placed on administrative leave from Stanley Middle School last week after a student told police that Merrick had sexually abused her in July and August. Police said Merrick sent the girl as many as 140 text messages a day, many of them of a sexual nature.

Merrick is scheduled to return to court Dec. 15 for setting of a date for his preliminary hearing on the charges.