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Who is Israel Santiago? San Jose music teacher faces sexual assault charges for inappropriately touching school girls

Israel Santiago, 43, made inappropriate physical contact with female students as young as 9 and 11, he 'hugged' and 'cuddled' them on his lap
Israel Alejandro Santiago, 43, was arrested for sexually assaulting girls at the Adelante Dual Language Academy in San Jose, California (Santa Clara County District)
Israel Alejandro Santiago, 43, was arrested for sexually assaulting girls at the Adelante Dual Language Academy in San Jose, California (Santa Clara County District)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: A San Jose music instructor is accused of making unwanted physical contact with nearly a dozen elementary school girls while they were in his office. Israel Alejandro Santiago a 43-year-old band/music teacher, at Adelante Dual Language Academy, a public K-8 Spanish immersion school in San Jose’s Alum Rock Union School District is accused of offenses including cuddling female students on his lap and cupping their buttocks. 

According to the prosecution, young girls recruited a boy to ask for a hug out of suspicion that their music teacher was unjustly picking on them. Instead, the teacher is said to have given the boy a telling "fist bump." According to a press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office in San Jose, California, “The defendant gave hugs only to girls. Some of his young victims even sent in a boy to ask the defendant for a hug. The defendant gave him a fist bump."


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Prosecutors claim that Santiago brought females into his office, which was "in a relatively secluded spot," during the course of the alleged crimes, which started last school year. Detectives with the Internet Crimes Against Children and Child Exploitation Detail spoke with a number of students who admitted that the suspect had inappropriately touched them; the attacks took place in the school's music and band room. At least 10 victims revealed the suspect's improper behavior. In one instance, he massaged the bare skin beneath a fourth-grade girl's bra strap. “The suspect, who is 6 foot 4 inch tall and weighs 285 pounds, would often hold the girls on his lap and hug them tightly to his body,” the DA’s office said. “The children reported feeling extremely uncomfortable.”

According to a press release from the San Jose Police Department, officers were called to the school on Nov 7 "for an investigation involving an adult teacher having inappropriate contact with several minors at the school." Santiago was arrested on a warrant on Monday, November 21, in Morgan Hill, roughly 20 miles south of San Jose, after investigators turned over their case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. 

He was arraigned on 11 counts of sexual assault on girls between the ages of 9 and 11 on Tuesday, November 22. According to prosecutor Kelly Meeker, a deputy district attorney in the sexual assault unit for Santa Clara County, he could spend up to 70 years in prison if found guilty, as per reported by Law&Crime. “It’s mystifying when people misuse their positions of authority and trust over small children,” DA Jeff Rosen said. “My Office will come down with the full weight of the law on those who abuse children.”

Detectives fear Santiago may have additional victims due to his "position as a music teacher" and asked anyone with information to call or email Detective Zanotto or Detective Gutierrez at and/or or 408-537-1381.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.