CARLSBAD — A former Carlsbad elementary school teacher accused of brazenly molesting three of his students at school pleaded guilty March 19.
Raymond Firth, 39, took a plea agreement admitting to two felony counts of sexual battery and one count of false imprisonment relating to the molestation of three of his third-grade students between 2006 and 2008 as a teacher at Pacific Rim Elementary School.
In accordance with his plea agreement, Firth will receive three years and eight months in prison, Deputy District Attorney Kelly Mok said. Additionally, he will have to register as a sex offender for life.
His sentencing date was set for April 26.
Firth was charged with six counts of committing a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14. He had faced up to three to 18 years in prison.
Robert Boyce, the defendant’s attorney, did not return a call made to his office about the plea deal.
Firth resigned in October 2007 after teaching second and third grade at Pacific Rim Elementary from March of 2000. He remains out of custody on $450,000 bail.
The last victim to come forward told her parents Firth had a “class rule” about having his female students sit on his lap as he helped them with their homework.
“We’re relatively satisfied,” the last victim’s father said. “Obviously, I’d love to see him in prison longer, but I think it’s adequate.”
He said Mok consulted all of the victims’ parents about the plea deal. Initially, the girl’s father said the parents decided to turn down the first proposed plea deal that would have kept Firth out of prison.
His daughter told him that she would rather testify at trial than allow Firth to escape a prison term, he said.
The first mother to come forward also agreed that she wanted Firth to get more prison time.
Both parents also said they are upset with how the Carlsbad Unified School District handled the matter. Despite claims by the district that they handled the investigation under the guidelines of their policies, the parents say they don’t buy it.
The first victim’s mother said the school was more interested in protecting the rights of Firth then her daughter. She said it took Carlsbad Unified School District four days to file a police report.
The first thing she said the school asked her when she brought the molestation to their attention was what her intentions were and if she was going to sue the school.
“I was shocked, that was like the furthest thing from my mind,” the mother said. “What are my intentions? My intentions are that we need to get that teacher out of the classroom right now,” she said she told the administrators.
The last victim’s father, who found out about the molestations after reading a story in The Coast News, said he really would have expected a letter from the district to the parents of all of Firth’s former students stating that something may have happened and you should talk to your children.
“It feels like they put more emphasis on protecting the rights of the teacher than protecting the safety of the children, and that’s just absurdity” the girl’s father said.
A request made to Carlsbad Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Torrie Norton about the case was not returned.