News ReleaseThe City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
650-329-2607
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

1/15/2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE #01152016
Subject :

Teacher Arrested; Sex Crimes Against Child Occurred 10 Years Ago
Contact :James Reifschneider, Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Booking Photograph of suspect Michael Christopher Airo
Palo Alto, CA – A Palo Alto elementary school teacher self-surrendered on Wednesday night on an arrest warrant charging him with sex crimes against the daughter of his former live-in girlfriend that occurred over a span of three years, ending more than 10 years ago. The crime occurred before the suspect was employed as a teacher, and there is currently no indication that there are any additional victims.

In May 2014, detectives at the Palo Alto Police Department received a mandatory report of child abuse from a psychologist stating that the victim, now a woman in her twenties, had disclosed that her mother's former live-in boyfriend had sexually abused her in their Palo Alto home on multiple occasions beginning when she was 11 years old and lasting until she was 13.  The abuse occurred between 2002 and 2005.

Detectives determined that the suspect had met the victim's mother while he was working as an aide at an after-school program at El Carmelo Elementary School at 3024 Bryant Street in Palo Alto in 1999.  At the time, the 8-year-old victim was a student at that school. Eventually, the suspect began dating the victim’s mother and eventually moved in with them.  By the time the case had been reported to the police, the suspect had since been hired as an elementary school teacher by the Palo Alto Unified School District.  Detectives investigated the suspect’s work history with the District, and determined there was no indication that there were any additional victims.

At the conclusion of the investigation, detectives submitted the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for review.  The District Attorney’s Office filed four felony charges against the suspect, including one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14.  A judge issued a warrant for his arrest on January 6, 2016.

Detectives attempted to contact the suspect, 34-year-old San Mateo resident Michael Christopher Airo, to serve the warrant, but he wound up self-surrendering at the Santa Clara County Main Jail on the evening of Wednesday, January 13.  He immediately posted $500,000 bail after being booked by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office pursuant to the arrest warrant.  His booking photo is attached to this release.

Until this week, the suspect was working as a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Ohlone Elementary School at 950 Amarillo Avenue in Palo Alto.  According to a letter sent to parents, faculty, and staff by Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Glenn W. "Max" McGee on the evening of January 14, the District has placed the suspect on unpaid compulsory leave.  The district is working to support Ohlone Elementary School students, parents, and staff with counseling resources as needed.

Detectives are not aware of any additional victims.  Anyone who believes that their child may be a victim is welcome to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.

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