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Public Safety

National City teacher facing child sex abuse charges denied bail again

Jacqueline Ma.jpeg
KGTV
Jacqueline Ma appearing in court via video conference at her arraignment hearing on March 13, 2023.

A Lincoln Acres Elementary School teacher charged with engaging in sex acts with a former student was again denied bail Thursday.

Jacqueline Ma, 34, was arrested last week in connection with allegations that she groomed a now 13-year-old former student, exchanged illicit photographs with the boy and engaged in sex acts with the teen.

Ma was released on $100,000 bail but was arrested again two days later, held without bail, and was ultimately charged with 15 felony counts, including forcible lewd acts on a child and possession of child pornography. She faces up to 29 years in state prison if convicted of all charges.

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Superior Court Judge Carlos Varela previously ordered Ma to remain in jail without bail, but on Thursday, her defense attorney, Mario Vela, again requested that the judge release her on her own recognizance or possibly on house arrest. The attorney said Ma would be willing to abide by any conditions the court would set, including staying away from all schools or anywhere else where children are present.

On Monday, a prosecutor alleged that in addition to sexual abuse, Ma attempted to contact the teen through a messaging application shortly after bailing out of jail.

Vela stated that Ma "irrefutably denies" trying to contact the alleged victim after she was released from jail and argued prosecutors did not charge her a count of intimidating or tampering with a witness "because that message does not exist."

Deputy District Attorney Drew Hart insisted Ma reached out to the victim using a screen name she had been known to use, though the message's contents are currently unknown.

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Vela additionally argued that Ma's second arrest stemmed from additional evidence investigators believe supports the charges she was originally arrested on and not new alleged crimes. Since she was previously held on $100,000 bail for the same alleged conduct, Vela argued she should not now be held without bail.

Hart denied that claim and said the ongoing police investigation revealed evidence of new crimes after searching her phone and classroom, including the lone forcible lewd acts count she faces.

Earlier this week, the prosecutor alleged Ma groomed the boy by giving him gifts and exchanging messages with the teen that eventually became sexual in nature.

Hart alleged that on one occasion, when the victim was 12 years old, she made "advances" on the boy in a classroom.

He also said her behavior towards the boy was "obsessive" and stated that upon her arrest, a photograph of the boy was found in her wallet, she had jewelry bearing his initials, and love letters to the boy were discovered in her classroom.

The prosecutor said that in some of their messages to each other, Ma "expressed frustration with the child for not responding to her quicker. She expressed being jealous at times when she believed this victim was talking to other girls," Hart said.

Varela stated Thursday that he did not believe the circumstances of the case had changed and ordered Ma to remain in custody without bail.

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