Simi Valley teacher arrested, accused of sex with 6th-grade student


Malia Brooks' charges include oral copulation and digital penetration by a foreign object, all with a child under the age of 14. Police say these alleged crimes happened over a period of time with one child at Garden Grove Elementary School.

The 32-year-old teacher made her first court appearance Wednesday. She pleaded not guilty to all charges during her arraignment. At a morning news conference, Simi Valley police remained tight-lipped about where and when the alleged crimes occurred and how they were discovered.

Simi Valley Police Lt. Stephanie Shannon said the limited information available to the public is in the interest of the victim, his family and the integrity of the investigation.

Brooks' attorney, Ron Bamieh, said his client suffers from mental illness.

"We had her diagnosed and she's in treatment. My guess is that a lot of the charges precipitated from that illness," said Bamieh.

Allegations against Brooks first surfaced in late February. She was immediately placed on paid administrative leave. She resigned last week and was arrested on Tuesday after she surrendered to police.

At the Garden Grove Elementary School campus Wednesday morning, parents tried to stay festive as they arrived with their children for the last day of school and the 6th-grade graduation ceremony.

"I was debating on whether to bring them today, but it is the last day. They're going to try to make it fun," said parent Shelley Brewer.

Parent Lina Centeno's son was in Brooks' 6th-grade class. She says her son never noticed anything unusual in class and that it's been hard trying to explain to her son what happened.

"Each child is different and we had to explain things very soon that we weren't ready to discuss," said Centeno, who described Brooks as a phenomenal teacher.

Some of Brooks' former students said she was a nice teacher.

"She's very nice with our students, and this is unbelievable about how this happened," said Brooks' former student Alan Cabrera, who spoke to Eyewitness News with his mother's permission.

District officials say Brooks had been a 6th-grade teacher at Garden Grove since 2004 and was an exemplary employee. Now the married mother of two is behind bars with bail set at $2 million.

Police say there were indicators that Brooks was planning to leave the area, which is why her bail was set so high. Authorities also notified Child Protective Services of Brooks' alleged crimes, but her children remain in their Simi Valley home for the time being. Investigators believe there are no other victims in this case.

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