RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) – A former San Francisco Bay Area teacher was charged by Contra Costa County prosecutors Friday with 29 counts of child molestation.
Anessa Paige Gower, 35, was arrested by Richmond police officers and she is currently behind bars in the Martinez Detection Facility jail.
Her bail is set at nearly $2 million.
Gower was a biology teacher at Making Waves Academy in Richmond. The charter school has 1,100 students in grades 5-12, according to the school’s website.
Gower “engaged in numerous acts of a sexual nature with minors between 2021-2022,” prosecutors said. “The case involves seven minors, so their identities are being withheld.”
“Investigators took statements from the victims and witnesses about a number of incidents involving sex acts with minors, inappropriate touching, and sharing sexually graphic photos over online platforms,” the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office wrote.
Gower was arrested Wednesday when she returned to California from a trip to Hawaii. Richmond police officers arrested her at Sacramento International Airport.
Making Waves Academy chief executive officer Alton Nelson told KRON4, “During the course of an investigation into allegations that one of our teachers violated school policy, we learned of additional highly concerning allegations involving that teacher’s conduct.”
“We immediately shared that information with authorities who are reviewing the matter. That teacher is no longer employed by Making Waves Academy and we have reached out to parents, students and faculty to provide support where it might be needed,” Nelson said Friday.
“There is nothing more important than the health, safety and well-being of our students,” Nelson said.
Making Waves Academy was also at the center of a separate child molestation case involving another teacher.
Ronald David Guinto, 40, is serving a 931-year sentence after being convicted in 2017 of molesting 15 boys when he was their teacher at Making Waves Academy and ran a youth camp called Camp Epic.
Guinto worked at the charter school from 2011 to 2013 when he founded Camp Epic. Police said he used the camp as a ruse to get along with his preferred victim type, mostly boys ages 11 to 12.
The school settled a $10.9 million lawsuit with several of Guinto’s former students.
The Associated Press contributed to this report