MARTINEZ -- A popular Concord elementary schoolteacher accused of molesting his students pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 91 felony counts of child molestation.
A criminal compliant filed Tuesday alleges that Joseph Martin, who teaches fourth and fifth grade at Woodside Elementary, molested 11 students between 2006 and April 2013. Concord police said nearly all of the molestations occurred on campus.
Defense attorney Patrick Clancy declined to comment on the case against Martin after the 45-year-old Martinez resident's arraignment Wednesday morning. Martin, who is being jailed in lieu of $10 million bail, appeared in a courtroom cell dressed in yellow jail clothing.
His charges carry a multiple victim enhancement that calls for life in state prison.
Martin has been a teacher with the Mt. Diablo school district since 1991 and has a reputation as one of the best teachers at Woodside Elementary.
"He seemed like such a great teacher and was so involved with the kids," said a parent who asked not to be identified. "He was able to get kids who weren't into school, into school.
"Our child is devastated and doesn't believe it," the parent said. "While I feel awful for the victims, something like this really hurts all the children who trusted him."
Deputy district attorney Derek Butts said there are 11 victims, all of whom were students of Martin's. Their ages today range from 11 to 17. Butts said he could not comment on the facts of the case because there is an ongoing police investigation.
Martin was arrested June 27 at his home and has been in jail since. Police said they began investigating Martin on April 25, when the Woodside Elementary administration contacted police to report that the teacher had inappropriately touched a student. Martin was placed on administrative leave that same day.
John Bernard, interim superintendent of the Mt. Diablo school district, said Wednesday he had no knowledge of any prior allegations against Martin, because he didn't work for the district when police were alerted.
Bernard said he did not know which district administrators alerted police. School board President Cheryl Hansen said in an email Wednesday that she could not comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. The district's interim general counsel and assistant general counsel were off Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
The Concord Police Department continues to seek potential victims. Anyone with information is asked to call 925-603-5836.
Martin returns to court July 18 to schedule a preliminary hearing.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.