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Former trainer, coach charged with intercourse assault

SAN JOSE – A former San Jose middle school teacher and coach is in jail for sexually abusing two of his students in the early 2000s. The most recent charges came two decades after he stepped down from the school under the cloud of a police investigation which at the time resulted in no criminal prosecution.
San Jose Police arrested 61-year-old Ronald Gardner on April 15, 2021 for sexual assault for underage acts between 2002 and 2005 at Sierramont Middle School in San Jose, when Gardner was a middle school science teacher and track and field coach. (Courtesy of the San Jose Police Department)

Ronald Dean Gardner, 63, of San Jose, was charged with two cases of oral copulation with a minor and two cases of lascivious and lascivious acts with a minor involving two victims who were Gardner’s students between 2000 and 2003, either in his science class or in one of the sports teams, Gardner trained at Sierramont Middle School.

The charges came after one of the reported victims contacted the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office on February 2 to allege Gardner sexually assaulted him. The sheriff’s office then referred the case to the San Jose Police Department, which commissioned the child exploitation detail to investigate the allegations.

During the investigation, which included interviewing the man who reported Gardner’s abuse, detectives learned that another man, who was a middle school student at the time, was involved in sexual activities with Gardner at around the same time as the first reporting victim was.

A police report on the new charges against Gardner also provided details of a 2003 police report in which a student warned the school that Gardner was inappropriately touched and spoken sexually explicitly and aggressively.

The earlier police report said the then headmaster told investigators that Gardner had been reprimanded for “inappropriate comments” in the past and described close contact between Gardner and a group of male students before and after school and giving drive to and from school. The school principal also noted that a teacher reported that Gardner kissed a student on the cheek during a power outage in 2003.

A subsequent police investigation found no charges and Gardner resigned from school soon after, the 2003 report said.

Gardner is being held in Elmwood Men’s Prison without bail. His next court date is June 21st.

Police are investigating the possibility that other victims could be linked to Gardner’s alleged behavior. Anyone with information about the current case or other potential crimes can contact Detective Rocky Zanotto at 408-537-1379 or 3657@sanjoseca.gov. Tips can be left at Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or at svcrimestoppers.org.

Please check back later for updates on this story.

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