A former teacher and track coach at The Athenian School in Danville has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts related to the sexual assault of a 17-year-old former student and will be required to register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.
As part of his plea deal last month, 54-year-old Oakland resident Raymond Earl Engeszer was also sentenced by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Mary Ann O’Malley to 45 days in jail followed by four years of formal probation, and he is prohibited from teaching for the rest of his life.
The survivor was an Athenian alumna and former student of Engeszer's, according to staff at the private school, who said that the crimes occurred after both the teacher and the student had already departed from the school.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the survivor said that Engeszer started grooming her a few months after she turned 16, taking advantage of her when she was in a vulnerable place in life.
"Even this many years later, I struggle to do a full accounting of what Ray’s abuse has wrought in my life. This is partly because when I met him, I had already been abused," the survivor told the court. Her name is being withheld in line with Embarcadero Media's policy on identifying survivors of sexual crimes.
"Ray could have been the trustworthy adult figure I needed. Instead, Ray revictimized me and took advantage of my vulnerability. Compounding trauma onto trauma," she said. "As a young person I assumed my feelings of discomfort and violation were the problem, not his behavior. And I wasn’t sure what was OK, appropriate or normal."
In the wake of the sentencing, Athenian Head of School Eric Niles told DanvilleSanRamon.com, "These crimes against children are devastating and leave me, as a school leader, both deeply sad and angry."
"Mr. Engeszer will now go to jail, although not for long enough in my estimation; become a registered sex offender and be precluded forever from the teaching profession. All of that is appropriate consequence, yet it can’t erase the pain he has caused for this young woman. Athenian fully supports her for coming forward and her desire to protect other minors from similar harm. I am so sorry that this happened to her," Niles said in a statement.
Attorney Manisha Daryani, who represented Engeszer, did not respond to a request for comment this week.
Engeszer, who initially pleaded not guilty to the charges last September, accepted a plea deal earlier this year that was approved by the court on March 29.
The former teacher pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object of a person under the age of 18 and willfully causing harm to a minor.
Prosecutors said the crimes occurred in December 2013.
Officials at Athenian, a private boarding and day school for students in sixth through 12th grades at the base of Mount Diablo in eastern Danville, said that Engeszer had left the school the year before. He was employed as a science teacher and a track coach at the school from the fall of 2009 to 2012.
After leaving the Athenian, Engeszer also taught at Convent and Stuart Hall in San Francisco as a Science teacher, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office.
The survivor described Engeszer as manipulative, using pity and self-flagellation to try and control her, while also cultivating distrust of other adults at the school, denigrating them and making it seem as if he was the only person at that school she could trust.
As a result of the abuse, she said she has had to spend hundreds of dollars on pelvic floor physical therapy, "trying to relax a fist in my belly that will never unclench," as well as tens of thousands of dollars in psychotherapy.
"I not only distrust other men, I distrust myself. I sometimes see danger where there is none and I sometimes see nothing where there is danger. I constantly question myself and my own feelings. Some people seem to move through the world with this natural confidence that I marvel at. I envy their self-assured calm, their security that they know who they are. I hardly ever feel that way," she said.
She added that she was satisfied with the work conducted by the DA's office, saying that it aligned with her top priority which is to "control Ray’s behavior for as long as possible."
"But my next priority is for me to put what I experienced with Raymond Engeszer on the public record so that it can never be swept under the rug, hidden, forgotten or dismissed. I sincerely hope that if there are other victims of his out there, that they can take courage from knowing that they are not alone, and what he did to them was not their fault," she added.
"I am 25 and I am tired of thinking about it. I am tired of fighting to be seen. I just want a life. I just want to feel safe in my own skin. I want my body to stop fighting itself. I don’t think any of this will happen as the result of Ray’s conviction. But I hope, if anything, I can stop worrying that it’s happening to someone else."
Athenian school officials encouraged any students with information on Engeszer or any other cases of inappropriate conduct to reach out to administrative staff.
"Let us continue to work together to be sure our students are protected at Athenian and everywhere else. If you have information about Ray Engeszer or any other matter or any inappropriate conduct by any teacher at our school, please do reach out to me at [email protected] And send your good thoughts to this brave woman for her courage to stand up and to heal," Niles added.
Residents with information on this case or others can also contact the Danville Police Department at 925-314-3700.
Survivors of abuse and sexual assault can also access services locally by contacting Tri-Valley Haven at 925-449-5842.