An elementary school teacher in Simi Valley, Calif., pleaded not guilty Wednesday to having a sexual relationship with a student under age 14.
Malia Brooks, 32, who taught sixth grade at Garden Grove Elementary School since 2004, faces several charges in her arrest
: one charge of lewd act upon a child, one count of oral copulation of a person under 14, and three counts of genital penetration by a foreign object with a person under 14 years of age when the suspect is more than 10 years older than the victim.
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The charges were revealed by police and school district officials at a Wednesday morning news conference and reported by 4 NBC Southern California. The male alleged victim attended the school, though officials wouldn't say if he was one of Brooks' students. The school services children from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Bail was initially set at $2 million.
Brooks' lawyer Ron Bamieh, told NBC4SouthernCalifornia that Brooks "has suffered from a mental illness."
"We've had her diagnosed and she's in treatment
," Bamieh said. "My guess is a lot of the charges precipitated from that illness."
Officials learned of the alleged relationship Feb. 22 when they were told by school officials that the conduct had lasted several months. Brooks had been placed on paid administrative leave the day before, but resigned June 5. No details have been released explaining how the school learned of the relationship.
Before the arrest, Brooks had been evaluated as "an exemplary teacher," Simi Valley Unified School District Superintendent Kathy Scroggin said in a statement.
The school district issued a statement trying to reassure parents that the school has taken precautions to ensure student safety. Police didn't find indications of any other victims.
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