Stockton Teacher Charged, Put On Leave After Struggle With Student

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Stockton Teacher Charged, Put On Leave After Struggle With Student
by Tim Daly

STOCKTON - A Stockton Unified School District physical education teacher is facing a charge of corporal injury to a child, and is on paid leave, after video surfaced of him trying to force a 14-year-old girl into a pool during a P.E. class.

Denny Peterson, employed by the school district for more than 10 years, is seen on video for 95 seconds using strong force to drag the girl toward the pool at Edison High School. The incident happened in late August, and much of it was captured on video by another student.

Gilbert Somera is a Stockton attorney representing the girl and her family.

"Regardless of her participation (in the class) it should disgust you how this man put his hands on a 14-year-old girl. She said multiple times, 'my top is falling down,'" Somera said. He is preparing a claim and likely a lawsuit over the struggle.

Peterson was put on paid leave for a month immediately following the incident, but was then brought back and assigned to another Stockton campus. Only Thursday, when News10 notified the school district Peterson was facing a misdemeanor charge of corporal injury to a child, was he place on leave again.

This is the district's response to the incident, the video and the punishment of Peterson: "SUSD has taken appropriate action in this case. The teacher has been placed on paid administrative leave per district policy."

The girl was avoiding the pool that day because she had had her hair done that morning and had an event to attend that night. Somera said the teacher had the option of punishing her academically but not physically.

"No means no and stop means stop. This isn't a situation where she's attacking a teacher and he's defending himself. When a woman or a 14-year-old girl says no, it means no," Somera said.

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