Longtime Yuba City High School teacher and Sutter County supervisor Jim Whiteaker was already facing several allegations by former students of assault, sexual misconduct, and bullying. And at last Tuesday night’s school board meeting, more former students levied accusations.
Ann DeWitt Harward had her mother, Mary DeWitt, read a statement regarding an incident she says happened in 1997. “As Mr. Whiteaker passed me, he grabbed my bottom. I remember being completely shocked. I didn’t really know what to do at the time,” DeWitt told the board on her daughter’s behalf.
Another former student also claimed at the meeting that Whiteaker videotaped her from the waist down in 2014.
The student’s mother had a friend, Beckie Jennings, read a statement to the board. The statement claimed that Whiteaker admitted to making the recording and said that he said the vice principal and principal at the time told him to delete it.
“I asked him if he videotaped my daughter and he said ‘Yes,’” said Jennings, who read the statement. “I was shocked that he not only recorded my daughter, but he admitted it.”
Whiteaker and the administrators in question were unavailable for comment.
A crowd of 100 people spilled out into the hallway at the Yuba City Unified School District board meeting, the vast majority there to support the young women making claims against Whiteaker. This was the second consecutive board meeting where students made accusations against their former teacher.
These new allegations come on the heels of several complaints, including one by a 14-year-old student who says Whiteaker grabbed her buttocks this past January. She filed a police report and a complaint with the district last month.
After this complaint surfaced, another woman, former student Andrea Foster, says Whiteaker touched her inappropriately with her clothes on in 1998. She says she told a school nurse and her parents at the time.
A third student, Shaneiko Cummins, says Whiteaker bullied and assaulted her during physical-education class in 2013.
Whiteaker is on paid leave pending a district investigation. He remains seated on the county board of supervisors.
On Tuesday night, after the school board announced it would be recommending additional charges against Whiteaker, president Lonetta Riley addressed the crowd: “This board has heard your voices. There have been accusations against the board that things were done and we didn’t take action.”
She continued: “I can assure you that there are at least three of us who have been on this board 15-plus years. We have never had a concern about the individual in question brought before this board.”
But Wally and Mary DeWitt say there have been previous investigations against Whiteaker. They claim an administrator called them years after their daughter filed her complaint.
“A couple years later my wife got a phone call. They just called and said, ‘Would your daughter be willing to come home to come to come and testify. We have ... another case or something, would she be willing to come and testify?’” Mary DeWitt recalled.
But former board member Mary Henson says she does not recall any investigation regarding Whiteaker going before the board. “I have no remembrance of anything,” she said.
At the meeting, a few community members spoke on Whiteaker’s behalf, including friend Shirley Gabhart. She says she spoke to Whiteaker directly after former students also alleged wrong doing.
“The accusations were all lies and the students and parents know that. At the end of the day, it is all about money,” she said.
So far, at least seven former students have made allegations against Whiteaker, who has challenged previous charges. He has 30 days to contest the new ones.
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