Former Ohlone Elementary School teacher Michael Airo was convicted recently of child sexual abuse after two days of jury deliberation.
After commencing the long awaited trial on Feb. 1, lawyers gave closing statements on Feb. 11, and the jury, comprised of seven women and five men, deliberated for two days before declaring Airo guilty. The former fourth and fifth grade teacher’s sentencing hearing has been scheduled before Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Allison Marston Danner on April 19.
After his arrest in 2015, Airo pleaded not guilty to one count of continuous sexual abuse of a minor under the age of 14 and three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with the use of force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person.
Consequently, Airo could face six, 12 or 16 years in prison for the first charge of continuous sexual abuse, as well as lifelong registration as a sex offender. In addition, he could receive five, eight or 10 years in prison for each of his last three charges.
Airo was charged with sexual abuse of his ex-girlfriend’s daughter on Dec. 28, 2015. The daughter, now 26 years old, testified in court, along with her half-sister, mother, high school boyfriend and various psychologists. Two mothers of former students, an instructional aide, a school psychologist, Airo’s half-brother and a friend testified on behalf of Airo.
In 2014, the daughter reported Airo’s behavior to a psychologist, who then notified the police. She described countless occasions of assault, allegedly beginning when she was 11 years old, when Airo would walk in on her while in the shower, kissing her chest, stomach and bottom.
Junior Jack Callaghan, one of Airo’s former students, recalls Airo as a “very caring guy who never really got mad at anyone, and who cared equally about everyone in the class.” Callaghan said he was shocked after hearing the accusations against Airo.
“I didn’t believe that he would be a person to do such things, especially considering how serious the situation is.”
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Lindsay Walsh began Airo’s trial by reading aloud a letter Airo had written for his ex-girlfriend’s daughter’s 10th birthday. The letter included phrases such as, “This isn’t an ordinary love. This is a forever love.” In addition to this birthday card, Walsh questioned Airo about a Valentine’s Day card reading, “Always be who you are, make yourself happy first and remember no matter what you do, how far you run, where you go, there is no escape from my love.” Airo addressed this card “to my ALA,” presumably imposing his last name on the his ex-girlfriend’s daughter, though she had not changed her last name to “Airo”.