Anessa Paige Gower is a California teacher who has been arrested on child molestation charges and has accused her of sexually abusing at least seven students, prosecutors say. Gower was a biology teacher at Making Waves Academy, a charter school in Richmond. Gower was arrested in April 2022, the Contra Costa County Attorney’s Office said in a press release. You face 29 charges.
Gower, 35, was fired from Making Waves Academy after her arrest, the school’s chief executive Alton Nelson Jr said in a statement, calling the allegations against the biology teacher “highly concerning”. Nelson added in his statement: “We immediately shared this information with the authorities who are investigating the matter. This teacher is no longer employed by Making Waves Academy and we have reached out to parents, students and faculty to provide support where it is needed.”
Here’s what you need to know about Anessa Gower:
1. Anessa Gower is charged with “underage sexual activity, inappropriate touching and sharing of sexually explicit photos via online platforms,” prosecutors say
Prosecutors for Contra Costa said in their press release: “Gower was a biology teacher at Making Waves Academy in Richmond and is believed to have been involved in numerous sexual acts involving a minor between 2021 and 2022. Investigators took testimony from victims and witnesses to a number of incidents involving underage sexual activity, inappropriate touching and the sharing of sexually explicit photos via online platforms.”
Further details on the allegations against Gower were not initially available. Court records show the charges allege Gower’s criminal conduct in incidents between December 23, 2021 and February 15, 2022. It was not immediately known when the Gower investigation began. It was also not immediately clear whether the investigation would continue and whether the police suspected other potential victims.
It was also unclear how police and school officials became aware of the allegations against Gower. The charter school said it had alerted police to the “very worrying” allegations. Approximately 1,000 students in grades 5 through 12 attend the school on Lakeside Drive in Richmond, California.
2. Gower was arrested at Sacramento Airport after returning to California on a flight from Hawaii, authorities say
Richmond Police, with the assistance of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Gower at Sacramento International Airport on April 6, 2022 while returning to California from Hawaii. She is currently in custody in Richmond,” the Contra Costa County Attorney’s Office said in its press release.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, Gower isn’t the first teacher to have been accused of child molestation at Making Waves Academy in recent years. Middle school teacher Ronald Guinto was convicted of 87 felonies in 2017, alleging sexual abuse of 15 boys at an outdoor youth camp he founded, the newspaper reported. Guinto was sentenced to 931 years in state prison.
According to Mercury News, the Charter School paid victims and their families $10.9 million to settle a lawsuit. Nelson, who was also the school’s CEO at the time of this case, said the charter school was unaware of Guinto’s behavior and said in a statement, “Our condolences continue to go out to the children and families affected.”
3. Originally from Arkansas, Gower has also spent time in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee before relocating to California in 2018
According to public records, Gower has lived in California as of 2018. She resided in Foster City, California from January 2018 to February 2021. She also lived in San Francisco, according to public records. When Gower began working at the school or at what age she began teaching, Making Waves Academy did not say. The Charter School also did not say whether Gower was involved in running clubs or extracurricular activities at the Richmond School.
Gower’s previous employment history was also unknown and Heavy was unable to locate any social media pages, including a Facebook profile, LinkedIn page or Instagram on her behalf. Records show that Gower, who is also gone by Anessa Paige Smythe, was born and raised in Arkansas. As well as living in Arkansas, Gower also spent time in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee before moving to California, Heavy’s public records show.
Gower appears to have no prior convictions in California or out of state, save for a 2004 speeding ticket in California and a 2009 violation, also in Arkansas, in which she is accused of failing to provide proof of insurance and not wearing a seat belt wear. Gower, then 22, paid a fine in the case, according to court records seen by Heavy.
4. Gower faces several years in prison on felony and misdemeanor charges against her
Gower faces 25 felony charges and 4 misdemeanor charges, according to Contra Costa court filings available online. Criminal charges include bestiality against a person under the age of 16, indecent treatment of a child, contacting a minor for the purpose of committing a crime, displaying or sending harmful material to seduce a minor, meeting a minor for lewd purposes and unlawful sex.
Gower also faces four child molestation charges. Under California state law, she could face several years in prison if convicted on the felony and misdemeanor charges against her. The charges were officially filed in a complaint on April 8, 2022.
Ted Asregadoo, public relations officer for the Contra Costa District Attorney, said in a press release announcing Gower’s arrest, “A former Richmond schoolteacher is facing multiple child molestation charges. The Contra Costa County Attorney’s Office filed 29 counts of charges against Anessa Paige Gower in the Contra Costa County Superior Court on April 8, 2022. The case involves seven minors, therefore their identities are being withheld.”
5. Gower is being held on $1.625 million bail
Gower is being held in the Contra Costa County jail on $1.625 million bail, online records show. She is being held at the Martinez Detention Center. Records show Gower was arrested by the Richmond Police Department around 9:50 p.m. on April 6, 2022
According to records, Gower was due to appear in court for the first time on April 11, 2022 at 1:30pm. Court documents, including an affidavit of charges, filed by prosecutors in the case were not immediately available, and no further details were released.
It was not immediately clear if Gower had hired a lawyer to speak on her behalf and Heavy could not be reached for comment. This story will be updated as more information becomes available and as Gower or her attorney comment on the police and prosecution allegations against her.
https://heavy.com/news/anessa-gower-california-teacher-arrested/ Anessa Gower: 5 quick facts you need to know