Former teacher wants felony sex conviction expunged - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

THURSDAY, November 19, 2009

Former teacher wants felony sex conviction expunged

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - A former high school teacher convicted of having sex with her 16-year-old student is headed back to court. Danielle Walls wants the judge to expunge her conviction, but the mother of the victim is saying not so fast.

It's been three years since former history teacher Danielle Walls pleaded guilty to four felony counts of having sex with one of her male students at Clairemont High School. Walls was 26 and the boy was 16. 

Walls served six and a half months in jail as part of her plea bargain.  Now, she's asking a judge to throw out those felonies.

"She's obviously still extremely remorseful for her conduct. She does understand the wrongfulness of the act she committed," defense attorney Gretchen Von Helms said. 

Last month, Von Helms filed documents with the court asking the judge to end Walls' probation two years early, reduce her felonies to misdemeanors and expunge her record from public court files. 

In 2006, Walls admitted to giving the boy cocaine and alcohol and having sex with him at multiple locations -- including his car -- over the course of an 8-month period.  In her motion, Walls claims she is now sober and holding down a job. 

"She did believe she had a substance abuse problem, that it caused a lapse in judgment," Von Helms said. "She has committed her life to being sober so she makes good judgment calls in the future." 

The mother of the boy - who did not want to be identified - spoke to News 8 by phone. 

"What she did to my son is irreversible. She gave him drugs, she gave him alcohol, she did unspeakable things to my son and it wasn't just one time. At some point she has to take responsibility for that and just serve the sentence," the mother said.

The mother says she plans on attending the hearing and giving her own statement to the judge.

"If you force her to serve her full sentence, then it sends a message to other teachers and then they won't be as likely to molest our children," the  mother said.

The district attorney's office is expected to oppose Walls' motion at the expungement hearing currently set for Dec. 3.  Walls also has a court appearance set for this coming Monday, Nov. 23, which may be taken off calendar because of scheduling issues Von Helms said.


Update:  The district attorney's office filed an opposition to Walls' expungement motion on November 20.  The November 23 court appearance was vacated.  The expungement hearing is still set for December 3 at 9 a.m. in San Diego Superior Court department 12.

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