Crime

Child molestation charges dropped for Los Osos man, Monterey County teacher

A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge dismissed a child molestation charge Tuesday against Jeremiah Blackwell, 43, of Los Osos.
A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge dismissed a child molestation charge Tuesday against Jeremiah Blackwell, 43, of Los Osos. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

A Los Osos man said he hopes the community will welcome him back after a San Luis Obispo judge on Tuesday threw out a child molestation charge against him.

A prosecutor with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the case against Jeremiah Blackwell at what was scheduled as a routine readiness hearing, and a Superior Court judge dismissed a single felony charge of committing a lewd act with a child.

Blackwell, 43, lived in Los Osos at the time of his arrest but worked in Monterey County as a sixth-grade school teacher. He was accused of committing a crime against an unidentified child at the child’s Los Osos home sometime between January and March 2016.

The resolution came before any evidence or testimony was made public in court.

Following the hearing, Patrick Fisher, Blackwell’s attorney, said in an emailed statement that Tuesday’s dismissal was “bittersweet.”

“While the dismissal does provide vindication, Mr. Blackwell was looking forward to the opportunity to show the public that he is innocent,” Fisher said. “Throughout the pendency of this case, he did not waver or compromise in his insistence that he is innocent. He always made it very clear that he would accept nothing less than a dismissal of the case.”

Fisher added: “As Jeremiah Blackwell and his family begin to pick up the pieces, my hope is that this community welcomes them back.”

A spokesman for the DA’s Office said they have a duty not to pursue a case they don’t think can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt when asked why prosecutors filed for dismissal.

“Throughout the prosecution of any criminal matter, the District Attorney’s Office engages in ongoing investigation and analysis of the evidence available to prove the case,” Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth wrote in an email. “After careful review, we believe that the allegations against Mr. Blackwell cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at this time.”

Blackwell was arrested May 10 while on campus in the one-school San Antonio Union Elementary School District in Lockwood, a rural area in southern Monterey County. He was released from the San Luis Obispo County Jail after posting $100,000 bail and later pleaded not guilty.

According to the district, Blackwell taught at the school since 2014. The alleged crime did not involve a student and did not occur on the school campus, a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said at the time.

San Antonio district Superintendent Pam Hernandez previously said that she first learned of the SLO County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation when deputies arrived and took Blackwell into custody, and that he was placed on unpaid administrative leave following his arrest.

Hernandez on Tuesday said the district had not yet received official notification that Blackwell’s case was dismissed and that he remained on unpaid administrative leave.

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