Sex offense trial starts against former University High teacher

FRESNO, Calif.

Jonathan Malcolm was once a popular music teacher, but now he's admitting to distasteful behavior.

He faces 13 counts related to his contact with three teenage girls. In opening statements, his attorney says Malcolm deserved to lose his job, but claims at least some of the charges are trumped up.

At the high school, Malcolm was known as a talkative teacher who was very accessible to students.

In court, Malcolm sat quietly as prosecutors described his pattern of befriending girls and grooming them for sexual contact.

"He'd inquired about her level of sexual experience and if she was a virgin," prosecutor Galen Rutiaga said about one of the girls.

Malcolm admits to getting too involved with his students. His attorney says the former teacher will take the stand to tell the jury his story.

"He's going to be the first to admit that befriending -- that treating them as equals became -- let's put it this way, inappropriate," said Roger Nuttall.

But prosecutors say Malcolm's relationships with female students went beyond inappropriate and into the realm of illegal.

They say he had physical contact with one girl while she was 17, had sexual conversations with two other underage girls, and even sent graphic pictures to one of them.

His attorney argues the contact was consensual with a girl who was almost 18. He also admits Malcolm stepped over a line teachers never should by having disgusting conversations with all three girls.

"But he's not charged with having disgusting conversations," Nuttall said.

We're not allowed to show you the three victims, but one of them took the stand Monday and described some of those conversations, and the pictures she received via e-mail.

Those pictures could help send Malcolm to prison for as long as 12 years.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.