Traffic stop led to Hoover HS teacher sex investigation

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Megan Denman*/, 29, pleaded not guilty to six felony charges connected to an alleged relationship with a former student.

A search warrant you'll only see on Action News says she was in Hawaii when the alleged victim was pulled over driving her car, setting off a chain of events leading to her arrest.

Denman walked uncomfortably through the halls of the Fresno County courthouse. The social sciences teacher had just pleaded not guilty to sex crimes with a former student, who is now 18. Her attorney, Roger Nuttall, says she saw herself as a mentor to the boy, and she's embarrassed by the charges.

"She's highly respected and the fact of the matter is that these charges and our appearance here are very difficult for her," Nuttall said.

Denman's legal difficulties started while she was on vacation earlier this month.

The search warrant shows the unusual way police learned of the alleged crime. It says an officer pulled over the victim driving Denman's car at Annadale and Ivy in Southwest Fresno. The officer thought the car might be stolen, and questioned the teenager -- who then revealed details of a sexual relationship with his teacher in 2011, before his 18th birthday. He also showed officers suggestive text messages from Denman.

Officers arrested the teacher four days later, when she returned from Hawaii, and the warrant says she admitted to the improper relationship.

The victim's family did not want to talk to us about the case, and Nuttall says they were reluctant to go forward with criminal charges. "So there's really no one out there that is seeking retribution from her," he said.

But investigators are seeking justice. They seized several items from Denman's home, including a Fresno Unified-issued laptop and possible DNA evidence so even with a reluctant witness, prosecutors can build a case.

Denman is on paid leave from Fresno Unified pending the outcome of her court case. She's due back in court next month.

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