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Police testimony: Alleged molestation victim was afraid she'd get in trouble for reporting teacher
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Gabriel Espinoza appears in Hall County Magistrate Court Friday, March 12, 2021, for a committal hearing for child molestation charges. Espinoza worked at Centennial Arts Academy as the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, or STEAM, activity teacher. - photo by Scott Rogers

A Gainesville Police investigator testified in a Magistrate Court hearing Friday, March 12, that one alleged victim of child molestation said she didn’t report sooner because she was afraid she’d get in trouble.

Gabriel Ramon Espinoza, 45, a teacher at Centennial Arts Academy in Gainesville, was charged with child molestation after being accused of inappropriately touching two different students. 

According to warrants, Espinoza allegedly put his hands on a 7-year-old girl’s thighs and rubbed “her upper thighs up and down while having her sit on his lap” sometime between August 2017 and May 2018.

The second warrant alleges Espinoza put his hand on a 9-year-old girl’s shoulder and “then slowly moved his hand over her left breast” on Feb. 16.

Both counts allege these acts happened at the school.

Sgt. Erin Escalante said the disclosures were made to school officials, and the school resource officer contacted the criminal investigations division.

Forensic interviews were set up for the children, in which one of the girls said “that she didn’t say anything because he was a teacher and she didn’t want to get in trouble,” Escalante testified.

Defense attorney Clint Teston said Espinoza is denying all of the charges, saying that nothing sexual in nature happened.

Escalante said she spoke with Espinoza, who said he “would never do such a thing” but would comfort kids who were in distress.

A bond was set for $200,000 with conditions including that he not have contact directly or indirectly with any child under the age of 18 other than his own children and may not go to the elementary school.

Espinoza was still in the Hall County Jail Friday, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office online database.

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams previously told The Times that Espinoza’s employment will be addressed when he is no longer in jail. Espinoza worked at Centennial Arts Academy as the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, or STEAM, activity teacher. 

Escalante said they are continuing to investigate as there has been more information gathered since the initial announcement of Espinoza’s arrest.