Hawaii teacher accused of sexually assaulting girl

Hawaii teacher accused of sexually assaulting girl
Published: Sep. 15, 2016 at 8:55 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 16, 2016 at 11:03 PM HST
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(Image: mug shot)
(Image: mug shot)

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A science teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Waikiki is on leave after being accused of sexually assaulting a girl over a period of five years.

Michael Wright, 33, was indicted by a grand jury last week on five counts of sex assault.

According to a temporary restraining order, the girl said the abuse started when she was 12 years old.

Between 2011 and 2013, she said, Wright was inappropriately touching her. Then in 2013, when she was 14 years old, she says he "groomed" and manipulated her into having a relationship with him.

The latest incident, she said, happened in late July, when he allegedly got into the shower with her.

On August 26, the girl reportedly sought help after she says she found child porn on his phone. Wright was arrested Sept. 6.

The girl knows Wright through relatives.

A state Department of Education spokeswoman said Wright is on department-ordered leave. He has been with the DOE for nine years.

Parents of Jefferson Elementary students were not notified of the arrest because, the spokeswoman said, this is a personnel matter.

The girl does not attend the school, but several Jefferson parents say they still should have been told.

"I feel they should have at least sent something home so parents know what's going on," said Winona Batalona, whose niece and nephew attend the school.

Wright's attorney, William Harrison, says his client is innocent.

"We believe there's some mental health issues here," he said. "My client is going to vigorously defend this case."

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