STOCKTON (CBS13) – A gym teacher in Stockton is on paid leave and faces criminal charges after he allegedly tried to force a high school student into the swimming pool during class.
The August 24, 2013 incident at Edison High School was caught on a cell phone by a friend of the victim. In the video, you can see teacher Denny Peterson trying to pry the resisting teen, who goes by Miss Garcia, away from nearby bars and into the pool. At one point, Miss Garcia is seen kicking Peterson in the stomach, trying to get him to stop.
Garcia says it started when she got in the pool and completed the swimming assignment for class. After she left the pool, her teacher attacked her. But her attorney is saying it wasn’t about discipline.
The girl says says before her friend started recording Peterson, touching her, she had been trying to get away from him in the pool. Garica says she swam the required laps, but refused to put her head underwater.
“I told him, because my hair looks cute. He told me, ‘You always look cute.’ and that made me feel really uncomfortable,” she said.
Miss Garcia says she got out of the pool and walked out.
“And he closed the door on me. And then some students opened the door and they told me to run, because he was going to come after me,” she said.
Peterson allegedly followed her up the bleachers, and that’s when, she says, she made it obvious she was uncomfortable and for him to stay away from her.
“I saw a water bottle and seen him coming after me, so I was panicking and I threw the water at him,” she said.
That’s when Peterson tried to force her into the pool.
“It wasn’t about discipline. It was about ‘you don’t want to get your hair wet, so I’m going to make you get your hair wet. It’s going to be my way.’ That’s an issue of not having self-control,” said Gil Somera, the attorney for Miss Garcia.
The teens reportedly took the video to school authorities right after it was shot.
Garica says she suffered bruises from the incident.
Peterson is now facing corporal injury charges and remains on paid administrative leave.