Sunday, October 21 , 2018, 12:20 am | Fair 56º


Guadalupe Teacher Pleads Not Guilty in Lewd Conduct Case

A math teacher at Kermit McKenzie Junior High in Guadalupe pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of lewd conduct for an alleged early October incident at Cal Poly.

James Robert Ungricht, 35, was arraigned in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on a misdemeanor count of lewd conduct in public, which is alleged to have occurred on Oct. 3 at the university

He entered a not-guilty plea and the next court date is Dec. 14.

Ungricht remains out of custody on posted bail, said San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham.

Cunningham said the single charge doesn’t involve a minor and was filed against Ungricht in mid-October, when an arrest warrant was also issued for the teacher.

“I don’t know whether (the warrant) was served or he turned himself in,” Cunningham said Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, Ungricht allegedly "did unlawfully engage in lewd and dissolute conduct in a public place and/or in a place open to the public and exposed to public view."

California law defines lewd conduct as touching your genitals, buttocks or breasts (for females) in public for the purpose of sexual gratification or soliciting someone else to do the act. 

Cunningham said he couldn’t comment further on the incident that led to the allegations against Ungricht, a 2001 Fallbrook High School graduate and track star.

It’s unclear exactly when Ungricht was hired by the Guadalupe Union School District, but he was employed at the Borrego Springs Unified School District as a teacher and substitute teacher as recently as 2012, according to online records. 

Ungricht has been placed on administrative leave by the Guadalupe Union School District, according to officials.

“Although the issues are being investigated by the district, there is no evidence suggesting that the teacher’s conduct involves district schools or students,” said Guadalupe Union School District Superintendent Ed Cora in a written statement. “We will keep the teacher on leave and off campus until the conclusion of the investigation.”

On Thursday, Cora told Noozhawk it came as surprise to officials to learn a criminal complaint had been filed against Ungricht. There were never any disciplinary issues or complaints involving the teacher until now, Cora said.

“We are just waiting to hear back from the district attorney, to see what the investigation says,” Cora said when asked about the school district’s next steps now that Ungricht has entered a plea in the case.

A lewd conduct conviction carries a maximum sentence of six months in county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Conviction does not require an individual to register as a sex offender.

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is urged to contact the Cal Poly Police Department at 805.756.5566. 

Noozhawk contributing writer April Charlton can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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