Former Palo Alto teacher convicted of child sex abuse
Elena Kadvany / Palo Alto Weekly
After deliberating for about two days, a jury found former Palo Alto elementary school teacher Michael Airo guilty on Wednesday of sexually abusing a young girl more than 10 years ago.
The jury unanimously found Airo, 36, who taught at Ohlone Elementary School, guilty of four felony charges: 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.
After the court clerk read each verdict aloud, defense attorney Michael Armstrong asked that Airo be permitted to stay out on bail due to, he argued, a lack of concern for public safety, his lack of criminal record and the low probability that Airo would fail to appear for a sentencing hearing.
Judge Allison Marston Danner ruled that Airo be immediately remanded without bail "in light of the nature of the convictions, the protection of the public and the fact that there is no right to bail after a felony conviction."
The jury found Airo guilty of sexually abusing his ex-girlfriend's young daughter while they lived together in a house in Palo Alto in the early 2000s. She testified that from fifth grade through eighth grade, Airo entered the bathroom while she was showering "many times" and would kiss on her on each breast, then each side of her stomach and then each of her buttocks. She did not report his actions at the time but eventually told a therapist in 2014, which sparked a criminal case that led to Airo's trial.
Airo denied all of the allegations during his testimony.
The jury foreperson declined to comment. The 12 jurors, one of whom had been replaced by an alternate, left the courthouse quickly after the verdicts were announced.
The case will now be sent to the probation department. A sentencing hearing has been set in Palo Alto for April 19.
Airo faces six, 12 or 16 years in state prison for the first charge and lifelong registration as a sex offender; and five, eight or 10 years for each of the latter three charges.
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