By the Daily Post staff
A former Palo Alto music teacher who pleaded guilty yesterday (March 26) to two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a teenage student will serve up to a year in Santa Clara County Jail, according to prosecutors.
John Patrick Root, 36, of San Francisco, will also have to register as a sex offender, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Lindsay Walsh told the Post.
Root taught music at School of Rock Palo Alto, located at 2645 Middlefield Road in the Midtown Shopping Center.
According to Palo Alto police reports, Root and the girl started communicating outside of music lessons via email, text messages and social media in January 2017, when she was 14.
After a few months of talking online, the two started spending time together outside of class, kissing and touching each other intimately in a park before having sex in Root’s car on two occasions. The two also sent each other nude photos, according to police.
The girl was “extremely hesitant” to report the relationship to police because she said she loved him, police said. After police contacted her, she eventually told them about the relationship.
Police said that Root refused to talk to police when they contacted him until he was arrested on a warrant and booked into Santa Clara County Jail.
Officers then searched his and the girl’s cellphones and other property, but they only found evidence of the relationship on the girl’s cellphone and in her diary. They believed other evidence had been deleted from Root’s cellphone, according to police reports.
A call to the suicide hotline
Palo Alto police caught wind of the relationship on July 13, 10 days after a suicide hotline notified San Jose police that a 35-year-old man named John had called the hotline and said that he had had sex with his 15-year-old music student.
Root told the hotline that the girl had told him that she might have a sexually transmitted infection, according to police.
The hotline notified Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children’s Services and passed along Root’s first name and phone number.
The children’s services department then notified San Jose police, who identified Root as the caller through a records information check.
They also found contact information for Root’s brother, who told police that John Root lived in an apartment in San Francisco and taught music at School of Rock. At that point, the case was referred to Palo Alto police.
Root was fired from the school after police contacted owners Hansel Lynn and Felix Archuleta, who gave Police Officer Erin Goodell and Sgt. Tony Becker a list of Root’s seven students, two of whom were girls.
Victim changes her story
The victim’s father brought her in for questioning on July 14, where she “seemed genuinely surprised” that Goodell was asking her questions about Root and insisted that she had never spoken to him outside of class and that he had never flirted or acted inappropriately with her.
The girl’s mother later told police that she suspected that her daughter had lied to her several times about spending time with Root outside of class and that the two texted and communicated on Snapchat.
According to police, the girl’s parents had requested she be reassigned to a different teacher on May 3 because they had found that they had been communicating outside of lessons.
On July 19, the girl returned to police for a second interview, where she eventually disclosed the relationship after police told her that they had seen evidence of it in phone calls and emails.
Police arrested Root in San Francisco the following day, a Friday. He has been out on bail since that weekend.
Root’s sentencing hearing was scheduled for June 21.