A former Aptos Junior High School teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his students pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon and could be sentenced to more than three decades in prison, the District Attorney's Office reported.
Steven Jay Sande, 61, of Santa Cruz, pleaded to 19 felony crimes, including sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 14, child pornography and using a computer to facilitate the commission of crimes against a minor, according to the DA's office.
"We think it’s a great result," Assistant District Attorney Andrew Isaac said.
Sheriff's deputies arrested Sande on July 16, 2010, at his home in Santa Cruz after allegations he had a relationship with a female student, then 13, surfaced. The girl was in a math class he taught, the sheriff's office reported at the time.
Sande, who had taught at the school for about 10 years, resigned a month later, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.
After Sande's arrest, sheriff's detectives continued investigating and discovered other "suspicious behavior" with another girl, Isaac said. However, the allegations didn't rise to a criminal level. They were reported to Pajaro Valley Unfied School District officials and handled by the school, Isaac said.
On Thursday, Sande pleaded guilty. The DA's office noted that his plea was not tied to a negotiated disposition.
He remains free on bail. Isaac had asked Judge Jeff Almquist to jail Sande, but the judge declined.
“There’s always a concern that once someone has taken this step that, if they’re free and looking at going to prison—he’s going to prison no ifs ands or buts about it ... he may decide to try to take other steps," Isaac said.
Almquist will sentence Sande on July 22. The former teacher will face, at the most, 35 years and four months in state prison. The minimum sentence for the crimes is three years, and probation is not a possible outcome, according to the DA's office.